Resident Commissioner Election Crucial before Fiscal Oversight Board
Facing the reality that the Resident Commissioner in Washington, D.C. will be the only elected public official with the power to oversee the Fiscal Oversight Board (FOB), Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate to that position, Héctor Ferrer, assured it is crucial to choose a person with the seriousness and commitment required to assume the role.
“The role of the resident commissioner, and I have been saying it since the primaries, entails other priorities for the island. It is the person who, it’s not that the person has control over the board, but he or she will be able to oversee it. The person will be able to demand accountability. Why? Because the Board must respond to Congress and the resident commissioner is the one in Congress,” he explained.
“As a member of Congress, one can present measures to fortify or weaken the Board. One can present measures like the ones I have already proposed, so when the Task Force ends on Dec. 31, a commission can be created for the country’s economic revitalization. Thus, the resident commissioner will be an important part in this relation with the Fiscal Oversight Board, not only with Puerto Rico’s government, but the federal government, and that’s why the person that goes to Washington must have the seriousness, must be rational, can’t be a fanatic obsessed with an ideal,” he added, alluding to his New Progressive Party (NPP) counterpart, Jenniffer González.
For the remainder of the year, the role of overseeing the Board falls upon the current Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi, who in turn is a member of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, entity created by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (Promesa). However, once his successor assumes the role, he or she will also be part of the committee, and the only democratically elected official who will have the power to demand accountability from the Board.
Ferrer emphasized that it is important for the next resident commissioner to place Puerto Rico’s interests above their status ideology.
We can’t send to Washington someone like the Republican [Jenniffer González], who only thinks of statehood. The country needs to be above any ideology. That doesn’t mean one can’t accept different visions for the country’s status, but the priority must be the country, economic development, job creations. And that is why the role of resident commissioner is so important come January 2017,” he reaffirmed.
The PDP candidate said he isn’t worried about a shared government, but he insisted the island’s economic stability must be recovered before solving its political status.
“In the event of a shared government, there must be a plan for Puerto Rico with the priority to economically stabilize the island, and then we can talk freely about a status process toward statehood or independence, or free association, or toward an improved commonwealth, but no option is viable with a country submerged in misery and poverty,” he sentenced.