Tuesday, October 15, 2019

San Juan mayor: The fiscal board must disappear

By on October 3, 2019

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz (Jaime Rivera/CB)

SAN JUAN — The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, sent a letter to Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz that included a draft of a concurrent resolution seeking that the legislature issue a statement defining the payment of pensions, education, safety and healthcare as essential services, in accordance with the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa).

“Matters related to the payment of pensions, health, safety and education should be considered as essential services. However, this concept has served as an excuse to favor private interests over the needs of our people. An expression by the Legislative Assembly would strengthen the people’s call to protect these services and also help the Human Resources Committee of the federal chamber [House of Representatives] and its chairman, Raúl Grijalva, to amend PROMESA and force the Board to assume the responsibility and guarantee financial resources for these services,” Cruz wrote to the Senate’s leader.

In the letter, the mayor also referred to subsection (b) of Section 201 of Promesa, which requires the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) that it established to guarantee sufficient funds to cover essential public services.

“The Board, in clear defiance of the legislative mandate, has not only evaded defining this concept clearly, but has also implemented austerity measures that have had the effect of harming the delicate fiscal situation of organizations that provide essential services to citizens,” the letter reads.

The mayor also said Promesa establishes parameters for designing the respective fiscal plans of each “covered entity,” which must “provide adequate funds for public pension systems.”

“The text of the law in this sense is not ambiguous. Precisely because of its clear and precise language, we can conclude that there is no room for discretion. I repeat, the Board must disappear, but as long as it stays we have a responsibility to fight for the interests of Puerto Ricans,” the San Juan mayor concluded.