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Senator seeks ‘dignified’ retirement for police officers

By on April 18, 2017

SAN JUAN – New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Abel Nazario defended Senate Bill 404, which he authored, stating that the bill doesn’t aim to provide more benefits to police officers during Puerto Rico’s economic recession, but rather to improve their quality of life.

During a Senate public hearings to discuss the bill before the legislative body’s Government Committee, Nazario explained that its intention is for police officers to enjoy a “dignified” retirement.

(Agustín Criollo/CB)

(Agustín Criollo/CB)

Nazario proposed to temporarily stop the compulsory retirement to analyze the measure’s economic impact. The room abruptly burst into applause from those present.

“I intend to file that bill tomorrow [Wednesday], to take Article 5 out of this bill and file it to order the superintendent to stop compulsory retirement for at least three months, until the committee can conduct a fair evaluation in terms of its economic impact,” said the senator, a former Yauco mayor.

However, Juan Medina Colón indicated during his testimony on behalf of the Administration of Retirement Systems of Government and Judicial Employees, that the actuarial impact of the measure could be negative due to the already fragile economic conditions in which the system is in. Therefore, he recommended analyzing its impact.

“If the bill is approved, it will have a fiscal impact, which is why we recommend to consult it with the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority [FAFAA] and the Office of Management & Budget (OMB). We also recommend consulting with the Puerto Rico Police about everything related to halting the compulsory retirement of police officers under Act 447,” Medina Colón said.

On the other hand, Acisclo Fossas, representing the Board of Trustees of the Retirement Systems of Government and Judiciary Employees, said that the bill would adversely affect the retirement system.

“In order to preserve the economic health of the system, we do not consider prudent a proposal to increase the benefits of any pensioner or beneficiary without it being supported by an actuarial study that determines its cost and identifying the source of financing to endorse the measure,” Fossas said when noting that S.B. 404 does not identify this source.

The board of trustees said it is unable to endorse Articles 1 through 4 of the measure because it believes that it has a negative impact on the funds of the retirement system’s trust.

According to the legislation’s exposition of motives, in 2013 the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) administration approved Act 3 of 2013 to establish changes to Act 447 of 1951, which created the Employees Retirement System of the Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and established additional changes to different complementary laws.

The measure assures the changes left state police officers, the only ones in Act 447’s system who don’t contribute to Social Security, which is why enacting Act 3 threatens the police officers’ quality of life, health, emotional stability, and dignity, without guaranteeing additional rights as an alternative.

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