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Senate approves CRIM Law amendment, NPP to control Governing Board

By on January 24, 2017

SAN JUAN — In order to implement Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s public policy in municipalities, the Senate approved Monday a bill to amend the Municipal Revenue Collections Center (CRIM) Law so its governing board majority is composed of mayors belonging to the prevailing party in the general elections, in this case the New Progressive Party (NPP).

“It is important to note that this legislation will allow the…CRIM Governing Board to implement the vision and public policy of the administration selected by the people of Puerto Rico through the most sacred aspect in a democracy: the power to lead through votes cast at the ballot,” Senate Government Committee Chairman Miguel Romero said.

Miguel Romero (Screenshot of @Miguel_Romero_)

Miguel Romero (Screenshot of @Miguel_Romero_)

Arguing in favor of the bill, Romero said it amends Article 5, subsection A of the CRIM Law regarding the election of board members, chiefly, that the mayors who compose the board “must belong to the party that won the preceding general elections and the representative entity of said party’s group of mayors.”

CRIM’s bylaws previously established that five out of its nine board members belong to the party that amassed the largest number of municipal votes in the general elections.

The Popular Democratic Party (PDP) won in 45 of the 78 municipalities, resulting in a majority.

“Through this legislation we expect to guarantee that the current administration’s public policy be extended to affairs concerning municipal administrations in order to achieve coordinated efforts that result in our municipalities’ improved functioning and efficient performance. We are conscious that the times Puerto Rico is going through require unity with purpose and a vision that gives back credibility to the people of Puerto Rico,” explained Romero.

See also: House Approves Labor Reform, awaits governor’s signature

PDP Sen. Aníbal José Torres immediately criticized the bill, calling it “a political move so the NPP can control CRIM’s governing board with NPP mayors.”

“What’s intended is to do is to assail CRIM’s governing board so it dominated by the NPP. In past administrations this was open for discussion among the mayors; mayors should have the power to decide. We are revising the bill at the political convenience of legislators not mayors,” Torres said.

The former Senate majority leader added that this bill’s approval disparages mayors’ work through political discourse, which now states that they must all respond to the public policy of the executive branch.

“The people chose the mayors and they selected 45 PDP mayors,” he stressed.

PDP Senate Minority Leader Eduardo Bhatia said the bill sends Puerto Rico back to “monarchal times” and that everything will now be decided by La Fortaleza.

“This is shameful. The people know that mayors are the ones who control CRIM and they voted for 45 PDP mayors. This doesn’t respect municipal autonomy. They are taking CRIM by storm. This is not a good government for Puerto Rico,” he denounced.

See also: Bhatia asks for more civilian participation in PDP

Meanwhile, Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Senate Minority Leader Juan Dalmau said the bill is an exercise in “exerting authority because I have the authority.”

“The most difficult part is to hold back and not give in to temptation to exert one’s power,” he said. “My vote will be against the bill.”

For his part, independent Sen. José Vargas Vidot was uncomfortable with the Senate’s consideration of type of bill because “it is a fight that eliminates the seriousness, capability, determination and possibilities of us standing up on our own.”

“This is a banal and superfluous squabble,” Vargas Vidot added. “This tires the people and detracts seriousness from our efforts. This is the traditional way to shift power from one place to another while the people… are who aren’t heard,” the independent senator said.

The amendments to CRIM law were approved with 21 votes in favor and 8 against, while Vargas Vidot abstained from voting.

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