Senate President Expects Tough Debate if Fiscal Control Board Imposed
SAN JUAN – Senate President Eduardo A. Bhatia insisted Monday on his rejection of a fiscal control board with powers that “the people of Puerto Rico delegated to democratically elected officials.”
Saying he believes the U.S. Supreme Court will decide within the next 60 days on Puerto Rico’s status and the ability of the island’s Legislature to regulate its “bankruptcy,” the Senate leader added that he anticipates the U.S. Congress “will try to impose a strong fiscal control board that takes over the legislative function to create a budget.”
During a Senate session, he forewarned of a strong reaction from the Legislature, especially the Senate, if a fiscal control board is imposed. “One thing is a fiscal oversight board and another thing is a fiscal control board that takes over decision-making about what is done with Puerto Rico’s money. I do not embrace a fiscal control board because democracy cannot be ceded, democracy cannot be handed over that way. The decision on how we will work with these funds has to come from the people of Puerto Rico, made by the leaders elected by the people of Puerto Rico,” he said.
He also predicted intense days of debate that, given the extent of the government’s obligations to its creditors, “We’ll have to make a number of additional decisions to condition and put the country in the right situation to face what is coming, which is a large payment in May and a huge payment of general obligations on the first day of July.
“Unless Congress makes the determinations it has to make, the determination must be…that the government of Puerto Rico not pay that, and at some point we will have to talk about that issue and at some point we will have to discuss, analyze and decide it as a country,” Bhatia concluded.