Puerto Rico’s fiscal board postpones furloughs following Hurricane María
SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico’s financial control board announced on Saturday it will no longer discuss the reduction of working hours for public employees, at least until next summer.
“In the aftermath of the catastrophic storm that has devastated Puerto Rico, the board is postponing any discussion of furloughs until next fiscal year and it is withdrawing its related lawsuit,” the board’s statement reads.
As first reported by Caribbean Business, the governing body created by the federal Promesa law announced on Aug. 4 its determination to implement a furlough program of two days a month to public employees, beginning on Sept. 1. Amid opposition from the commonwealth government, the board sued the Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in late August to enforce the measure, along with cuts to pensions, according to the island’s certified fiscal plan.
The decision to postpone the discussion on furloughs comes a day after the board held an executive meeting during which members discussed the next steps following the passage of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, sources told Caribbean Business.
The board, moreover, is requesting the federal government to transfer employees from different agencies to assist in recovery efforts in the coming months.
According to the statement, several members of the governing body were in Washington, D.C., this week, holding meetings with administration officials, as well as several members of Congress.
The board says it urged the federal government to “expedite responses to all requests for assistance from the government of Puerto Rico, increase financial assistance, lift the caps on individual programs of financial aid available to the island, and waive the local government cost-sharing requirements across available programs, including permanent recovery work.”
For its part, the chairman of the board, José Carrión, said that the recovery of the island after Hurricane Maria “is going to be long and hard, but Puerto Rico will come back better and stronger.”
Hurricane María swept Puerto Rico last Wednesday, leaving thousands without homes, causing severe damage to infrastructure and the collapse of energy and telecommunications systems. The government has reported 16 storm-related deaths to date.