Puerto Rico Senate president: Fiscal board request for power utility loan ‘too late’
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz said Monday that it is “too late” for the island’s Financial Oversight & Management Board to request a loan authorization to prevent the Electric Power Authority’s (Prepa) closure next month, after the Legislature approved a loan for the public corporations last week.
“We addressed that issue. The board was late. We passed legislation precisely to address this. The Joint Resolution  that was approved is a loan to the Electric Power Authority and the Aqueduct & Sewer Authority [Prasa] to address the liquidity problem. The governor presented it, we handled it and it’s done,” Rivera Schatz said.
He said the resolution was passed by both legislative bodies and was approved by the governor last Friday. The resolution allows the Legislature to be notified about the use of state and federal funds, and grants a cap of $550 million for Prepa and $80 million on Prasa. The disbursement can be carried out until June 30.
Meanwhile, the fiscal oversight board filed an urgent motion with U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain to authorize that the general fund lend some $1.3 billion to Prepa to correct a deficit of about $1.2 billion, and thus avoid the corporation’s closure next month. The parties have until Feb. 1 to express themselves, while on Feb. 7 there will be a general hearing in which the issue will be addressed.
Rivera Schatz said, from his point of view, the board’s determination is academic: “I believe with the approved amounts, they will give breathing room to the authority and will allow it within that term for CDL [Community Disaster Loans] funds to arrive, to fuel the [power authority’s] finances even more and will not require greater amounts of additional money…. I believe there should be no problem with that.”
Rivera Schatz made his remarks after his usual meeting with Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to discuss the legislative agenda.
The Senate president said they also discussed issues such as the reorganization plans and the tax reform. He indicated that next Thursday, the Treasury secretary will explain the proposal’s scope and concepts. “I now that he spoke with Migdalia Padilla and Rep. Tony Soto, who are the ones that work with the budget issue. That is also on track,” he added.
Another issue addressed was the designation of Sports & Recreation Secretary Adriana Sánchez, who does not face opposition, to be discussed further during Monday’s session.