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Puerto Rico oversight board publishes fiscal 2019 report

By on August 14, 2019

The fiscal oversight board’s executive director, Natalie Jaresko; member Ana Matosantos; and chairman, José Carrión (CB file)

Says it wants to end its work as quickly as possible

SAN JUAN – The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico published Wednesday its fiscal year 2019, or third annual, report to the U.S. president and Congress and the governor and legislature of Puerto Rico, as required by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa), which created the panel.

The 81-page report has sections on its efforts toward achieving fiscal responsibility on the island and delves into its fiscal plan’s framework. The panel outlines the steps taken to restructure the public debt and regain access to capital markets. The report also goes into the board’s litigation to defend Promesa, its own budget and recommendations for the federal government

In a letter by Chairman José Carrión, he says the board “made substantial progress on the path to undoing the damage of Puerto Rico’s fiscal and economic crisis. We advanced in renegotiating Puerto Rico’s debt, establishing budgetary discipline and fiscal transparency, and raising the importance of critical structural reforms required to make the economy competitive again.

“Recent political events have left all of us in Puerto Rico shaken. Although FOMB’s role is not political, we will work with the elected leaders of Puerto Rico to provide its people with the stability needed by all stakeholders. We will continue our work, so this critical period does not also shake Puerto Rico’s recovery from the fiscal crisis and from the devastation of Hurricane María. The sooner we fulfill Congressional intent and comply with the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act of 2016 (PROMESA) statute, the sooner we can end the work of FOMB and return full authority to Puerto Rico’s elected representatives. We seek to complete our work as quickly as possible because our dedication is to the people of Puerto Rico who deserve a better future.”

He further says government “right sizing will continue until we reach a level of spending that is affordable and ensure the spending fits the needs of the people of Puerto Rico. Doing what is necessary is often painful, unpopular, and easy criticized. However, we need to press on and rebuild and restore our economy.”

In her letter, which follows Carrións, the panel’s executive director, Natalie Jaresko, says that although the board is a small organization, one of its organizational goals was to “take advantage of the incredible talent that we have in Puerto Rico to build organizational strength through local recruiting, thereby reducing costs and the use of third-party consultants.”

The board’s expenses, she said, “are substantial and necessary” to administer the “largest public entity restructuring in U.S. history” and party to “hundreds of lawsuits.” The board, she went on, is “monitoring more than 120 reform implementation plans across the Government, which…translate into thousands of individual reform milestones that need to be monitored and tracked.”

Promesa, she assured, “is successfully providing solutions to many” of the problems Puerto Rico faces, such as its lack of access to capital markets, “which is needed to operate the Government and ultimately restore economic growth and opportunity for its residents.” 

Jaresko concluded by saying the board’s “work is focused entirely on Puerto Rico’s recovery. The law is clear as to the work that we need to do – and for how long.” 

See the full text of the board’s fiscal year 2019 report here: FOMB – Annual Report – FY 2019

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