Senate Calls for Prepa Negotiations to Resume
SAN JUAN – Senate President Eduardo Bhatia urged the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) and its creditors to resume negotiations for an agreement to be reached regarding the restructuring of the public utility’s debt.
“The call, what Puerto Rico’s Senate is demanding today, is for the parties to return to the negotiating table immediately, that we will not accept anything else than that, and whoever wants to impose a mechanism of pressure and manipulation is mistaken. We will not let ourselves be manipulated by anyone, we are going to take this to its happy ending,” Bhatia said at the Senate.
Bhatia said the Legislature acted as soon as it received the legislation at the end of the last session, and has addressed it “with the urgency required by a case as delicate as that of Prepa,” while stressing that producing a bill to address the restructuring of a $9 billion debt requires “time, and there has to be deep legislative reflection.”
“This is the largest securitization in the history of the United States, this is gigantic, this is enormous and requires doing the right thing technically, and there are people who are in a hurry and frustrated and have been negotiating for 18 months. I am not blaming bondholders because the are in a hurry; I am not blaming Prepa for their hurry. Of course they are in a hurry, but they cannot have brought this to us a month ago and tell us they have been 20 months negotiating and for us to do it in a month. We have treated this with urgency,” the lawmaker said.
Bhatia took the opportunity to reject the efforts of some of the island’s political leadership before the U.S. government, which are contrary to the efforts by the current administration to push for Puerto Rico’s right to have access to Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code.
“Puerto Rico leaders are saying they do not want the tools that all the United States has to negotiate its debt; they do not want it, they reject it,” Bhatia said while recalling that U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew recommended a united front to request access to Chapter 9 as the most accessible tool to pull Puerto Rico out of its fiscal rut.