Moody’s views addition of bond insurers for Prepa RSA as ‘significant progress’

A Prepa employee takes inventory of utility poles. (Screen capture of www.aeepr.com)

Credit-rating agency points to uncertainties in outcome of Puerto Rico utility restructuring plan

SAN JUAN — The addition of two monoline bond insurers to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (Prepa) restructuring support agreement (RSA) represents “significant progress” toward completion of the public corporation’s debt restructuring process and transformation, including averting the possibility of the utility being forced into receivership, credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service said in a report Tuesday.

The island’s Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) announced Monday that, together with the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (Aafaf by its Spanish acronym) and Prepa, it reached an agreement with bond insurers Syncora Guarantee Inc. and National Public Finance Guarantee Corp. to join the RSA that certain Prepa bondholders and Assured Guaranty Corp. reached earlier this year.

“The addition of national and Syncora to the RSA demonstrates further progress toward Prepa’s debt restructuring and a subsequent emergence from bankruptcy,” Moody’s report states. “As part of this agreement, National and Syncora agreed to drop their previous litigation seeking a court motion to appoint a receiver for Prepa.”

Moody’s notes that the agreement does not change the economic terms of the RSA announced in May, which among other things, calls for existing bondholders to exchange their bonds for new securitization bonds that will be issued by a “new special purpose vehicle” that is separate from Prepa.

The debt service on the new securitization bonds will be covered with additional revenues raised with a “transition charge” on Prepa customers.

With the addition of the two bond insurers, the RSA has the approval of about 90 percent of the uninsured bonds and all of Prepa bond insurers, which exceeds the minimum 67 percent threshold needed for approval. Nevertheless, the rating agency cautions that completion of the debt restructuring process is still subject to a number of conditions, including approval from “the court overseeing the bankruptcy as well as the approval of the legislature.”

Moreover, Moody’s states that “there remains a high degree of uncertainty about whether this restructuring plan can or will be implemented,” noting the issue of “affordability” of the agreement for Puerto Rico’s “struggling economic base.”

In fact, many economists and consumer advocacy groups have warned that the RSA is a sweet deal for Wall Street banks but bad for Puerto Ricans, who will end up seeing significant hikes to their utility bills. An independent analysis by the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has projected lower rates for only a short-term basis, with increases down the road.

Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association President Carlos Rodríguez on Wednesday reportedly called on Gov. Wanda Vázquez and the FOMB to reveal the charges that would be included in Prepa customers’ bills as part of the RSA, noting that the effects of such increases could be detrimental to industries on the island. It would also hamper efforts to attract business to the island, he added.

IEEFA and other organizations have questioned the legality of $5 billion of the Prepa debt in question. MBIA Insurance Corp. and its National Public Finance Guarantee Corp. had filed a lawsuit, citing flaws and conflicts of interest plaguing the $8.3 billion Prepa restructuring deal.

The Moody’s report states that “there is the potential for additional litigation as other creditors, including the remaining unsecured creditors, might seek to challenge the settlement in court.”

The rating company maintains a classification of “Ca” with a negative outlook on Prepa debt. The rating is given to debt that is “highly speculative and likely in, or very near, default, with some prospect of recovery in principal and interest.” Meanwhile, Moody’s rating for National Public Finance is “Baa2,” or moderate credit risk, with a stable outlook.

Execution of the RSA would represent the third debt exchange by Puerto Rican entities after the court approved settlements for the Government Development Bank in November, and the Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corp. (Cofina by its Spanish acronym) in February.

William C. Fallon, chief executive officer of National Public Finance Guarantee, said that following the Cofina transaction earlier this year, it is “a step closer to resolving all of National’s Puerto Rico exposure.”

“We look forward to working cooperatively with the Government of Puerto Rico, the Oversight Board and other creditors on the closing of this transaction, and to restructuring our remaining exposure to the island,” Fallon said in a statement to Caribbean Business, in which he noted that the RSA “provides a blueprint for the restructuring of our insured Prepa bonds.”

The Prepa RSA before the bankruptcy court covers $8.26 billion of debt. A hearing on the RSA is scheduled for Oct. 30.




‘The show must go on,’ says Puerto Rico’s financial czar

Christian Sobrino during a public meeting held by the fiscal oversight board for Puerto Rico in August 2017. (CB file)

After Treasury secretary’s dismissal, Christian Sobrino not only now heads the island’s fiscal agency, but is also CFO and OMB director

SAN JUAN — Christian Sobrino, the head of the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority, known as Aafaf for its Spanish acronym, assured Wednesday that he can carry out his current role as well as that of government chief financial officer (CFO) and director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“If I see that something is not manageable, I will be the first one to raise the flag,” the official said at a roundtable with reporters.

Sobrino was appointed two both positions Monday after the dismissal of former CFO Raúl Maldonado, who also served as Treasury secretary and OMB director, for failing to inform the governor’s office, La Fortaleza, before he said Monday morning that there was an “institutionalized mafia” at the Treasury Department and that he had been the victim of extortion.

The chief financial officer role was created by executive order and is not the same chief financial officer found in the certified fiscal plan, as the latter is for a separate agency and is not attached to La Fortaleza, Sobrino explained.

His role as CFO, he said is to coordinate resources among agencies, “oversee the implementation of public policy, report to the chief of staff and the governor and help address any issue when support is asked for. But the actual execution occurs at the agency level, namely Aafaf, OMB and Treasury,” he said.

He said he plans to focus for the time being on ensuring the legislature passes the budget and that the island’s Financial Oversight and Management Board, to which he is also the governor’s non-voting representative, certifies it as compliant with the fiscal plan.

“At OMB, my job is not that different from what I do here,” he said, adding that he plans to assign Aafaf resources to the OMB because that agency has had its payroll reduced.

After highlighting “the traffic jams” around the OMB headquarters, he said he will run the office from Aafaf, at the Minillas Government Center, because the facilities have parking. In fact, he said he plans to suggest the possibility of moving the OMB because they are difficult to access.

“The traffic jam makes it difficult to coordinate efforts with agencies,” he said.

Sobrino also said he was appointed temporarily to the positions since his appointments took place “suddenly” because of the abrupt events that occurred Monday. He said his salary will remain the same.

Regarding how he will manage his time, Sobrino said his main office will be at the Minillas Government Center but that he has to go to La Fortaleza every day to meet with the governor.
“In all of my affairs, I have a team of workers that helps me out and answers to me…and I am very strict about that,” he said.

The official, however, said he does not foresee making changes at the CFO’s office because most of the staff there is from the Treasury Department.

As part of his new responsibilities, he said he will make it a priority to have the government’s audited statements completed, especially after the abrupt departure of Maldonado after alleging corruption at Treasury.

When asked about how a CFO can carry out their functions when the Treasury Department is in charge of implementing the island’s General Accounting Law, Sobrino said Aafaf’s charter gives him legal authority to oversee the government’s financial function.

With regard to the effect on government operations that Maldonado’s abrupt exit could have, Sobrino said the former Treasury secretary was an important part of the governor’s team and had a lot of support but “the show must go on.”

As for the impact of the scandal on the island’s image in Washington, D.C., Sobrino said the impression he has received from U.S. Treasury officials, the White House and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, among others, was that, “that was just bizarre,” but acknowledged that the controversy could be used to make the island look bad. Sobrino said he will be traveling to Capitol Hill in the coming weeks.

When asked about the fiscal oversight board’s reaction to the latest events, Sobrino said that the federally created panel is focused on the budget.

During the press conference, Sobrino also announced that the restructuring support agreement of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) has been delayed after the U.S. Judge Laura Taylor Swain put a halt to it earlier this month; therefore, any legislation to implement it will have to wait until the second legislative session, which begins in August.

This means that 1 cent per kilowatt-hour hike in customers’ electric bills, which was slated to take effect in July to pay the utility’s debt, will not come into effect, for the time being, Sobrino said.

Monday is the last day of the two-year statute of limitations Prepa has to file avoidance claims to claw back improperly made payments before the fiscal board entered it into bankruptcy-like proceedings under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act.

Sobrino said the Prepa vendors that are the “critical ones” to negotiate tolling agreements with, which would delay the lawsuits, are still being examined.




Invitation to exchange Puerto Rico Cofina bonds issued

(CreditDebitPro on Visualhunt.com)

For tax-exempt bonds less than 25 points lower than yield on those exchanged

SAN JUAN — The Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corp. (Cofina by its Spanish acronym) has issued an “Invitation to Exchange Bonds and Consent to Amendments,” dated June 10, of certain holders of sales tax revenue bonds.

On Feb. 12, the debt adjustment plan for Cofina’s debt was approved by the U.S. District Court. Sometime after, Cofina issued about $12 billion in restructured bonds. The invitation only covers holders of Series A-2 and B-2 bonds, which total some $3.6 billion.

As part of the aforementioned deal, Cofina, Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency & Financial Advisory Authority and the island’s fiscal oversight board had agreed that if the Internal Revenue Service determined that the interest on the bonds was excludable from gross income for federal income tax purposes, Cofina would offer all bondholders the opportunity to exchange such bonds for Cofina tax-exempt bonds.

In May, the IRS informed the government of Puerto Rico that it will exempt the sales and use tax revenue bonds issued by Cofina, according to a notification published by the Financial Oversight and Management Board.

“The Invited Bonds were originally issued without an opinion relating to the status of interest for United States federal income tax purposes. The Invitation and supporting materials invite holders of Invited Bonds to exchange those bonds for bonds the interest on which is tax-exempt for U.S. federal income tax purposes, and with an interest rate that has been adjusted to reflect a yield that is no more than twenty-five (25) basis points lower than the yield on the Invited Bonds of the same series, subseries and maturity,” the notice issued Monday reads.

The IRS Closing Agreement, however, does not state that the so-called invited bonds are tax-exempt. Rather, it provides Cofina with the steps and allocations it can take to qualify the bonds as tax-exempt.

Bondholders are not required to exchange their invited bonds; however, if not exchanged and covered by the conclusion in the IRS Closing Agreement, these will be subject to federal income taxation, except with respect to Puerto Rico residents and corporations that meet certain requirements of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

For further information, visit: https://emma.msrb.org/ContinuingDisclosureView/ContinuingDisclosureDetails.aspx?submissionId=ER950924.




Puerto Rico Council on Developmental Disabilities placed into receivership

Aafaf Director Christian Sobrino, the governor’s representative to the fiscal oversight board for Puerto Rico (CB file photo)

2nd entity to nearly see federal funding halt

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF by its Spanish acronym) recently declared a receivership for the Council on Developmental Disabilities (CDD), an entity attached to the Puerto Rico Planning Board (PRPB).

The action, the fiscal agency said, is intended correct “serious deficiencies identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which jeopardize approximately $2.5 million in federal grants intended for the creation of programs that benefit Puerto Rico’s population with developmental disabilities.”

The CDD was placed in the Tier 3 High Risk category on Jan. 17, 2013. Since then, the federal government has requested corrective action plans and provided technical assistance; however, the CDD has not properly addressed the findings.

On Feb. 4, the CDD received a final warning that the federal grant allocation could be terminated. The noncompliance is grounded mainly on improper fiscal and program management. The findings include, among others, improper management and spending of federal funds, and administrative expenses in excess of those authorized by federal rules.

AAFAF Executive Director Christian Sobrino said the PRPB also issued similar findings after it conducted an audit of the fiscal operations of the CDD. The audit revealed multiple irregularities, such as the creation of projects beyond the period established by the federal government, lack of activities to make public the availability of funds, and delay in the proposal approval processes.

“This background of noncompliance with fiscal and program requirements has limited the creation of projects for the benefit persons with developmental disabilities and their families,” an Aafaf release reads.

The president of the PRPB, María Gordillo said she will continue fulfilling her responsibilities to guarantee that the funds are used appropriately, following state and federal regulations, according to the release.

“AAFAF will immediately address the findings of the Federal Government. We will submit a Corrective Action Plan to correct the deficiencies, and fulfill the promise of the Administration of Governor Ricardo Rosselló to restore the services our people deserve. We will not allow the loss of federal funds due to poor management of the administrative structure of this Council. We are going to fix this once and for all.” Sobrino Vega said.

The CDD is the second entity placed into receivership by AAFAF, which said it was forced to place the administrative component of the Persons with Disability Advocacy Office (PDAO) into receivership on March 26 due to similar deficiencies pointed out by HHS.

“Since AAFAF’s intervention, direct and effective communications have been established with the Federal Government, and a Corrective Action Plan addressing the findings has been successfully approved. Thus AAFAF avoided a process that would have terminated federal funding for the PDAO, guaranteeing the benefits and continuity of services to persons with disabilities.”

The receivership of the CDD will remain in effect until the executive director of AAFAF certifies that the noncompliance and deficiencies have been corrected.




Puerto Rico fiscal agency chief: Oversight board’s budget threatens essential services

The Puerto Rico Capitol in San Juan (CB photo)

Board gives legislature June 10 deadline to consider its spending plan

SAN JUAN — The head of Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (Aafaf by its Spanish acronym) warned Wednesday that the island’s Financial Oversight and Management Board’s budget for fiscal year 2020 reduces public expenditure to the extent of impeding the government from fulfilling its function of promoting the general welfare of the island’s residents.

“We have several fundamental differences with the Oversight Board as to the best way to overcome Puerto Rico’s financial crisis. We believe the Oversight Board is requiring a level of austerity that is counterproductive and impedes the provision of essential services to the citizenry,” Aafaf Executive Director Christian Sobrino said.

The joint resolution the board sent to the Legislature, summarizing the budget allocations, assigns $9.05 billion from the General Fund of the State Treasury, which the fiscal panel rounds off as $9.1 billion. The board’s version of the spending plan is of $571 million less than the budget it was sent by the governor, reflecting reductions to allocations for education, municipalities and the State Elections Commission.

The board said it was forced to make the cuts because the government’s budget was not compliant with the fiscal plan it certified.

Sobrino said that while he has yet to review the specific cuts, which board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko announced Tuesday, he will evaluate the budget to ensure it is compliant with the government’s stated policy.

“It is critical that the Oversight Board does not require unnecessary cuts to the continuation of public safety, healthcare and our children’s education,” he said.

Jaresko stressed Tuesday that the majority of the budget’s funds will go to pay pensions and the priority, or essential, areas: healthcare, education and public safety.

A letter the board sent to the Legislature on Wednesday specifies that lawmakers must submit the adopted budget to the panel by June 10. The board will then approve the legislature’s budget or notify lawmakers of any violations by June 14. If the board finds the legislature’s version to be non-compliant, the board expects a revised budget by June 21, to be able to certify the budget by June 28.

“The Oversight Board looks forward to continuing to work with you to certify a compliant fiscal year 2020 Territory Budget,” reads Jaresko’s letter to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and House Speaker Carlos Méndez. “The Oversight Board may supplement the budget attached hereto with technical amendments.”

The $9.05 billion general fund budget does not include special revenues, or $3.5 billion the government makes through fees, traffic fines and services. The combined general fund and special revenue funds total $12.6 billion. The island is also slated to get $6 billion in federal funds, a figure that does not include disaster-related relief.

About 22.1% of the $9.1 billion budget, or almost $2 billion, will go to the PayGo program to pay pensions. About $1.9 billion, or 21.6%, will to education, including $560 million to the University of Puerto Rico and $14 million for teacher salary increases.

In addition, about $1 billion, or 11.4%, will go to public safety, and 14.3%, or $1.2 billion, to healthcare, including $917 million to the Health Insurance Administration (ASES by its Spanish acronym).




Puerto Rico fiscal agency enters into support agreement to restructure infrastructure entity, port bonds

(File Photo)

New bonds to be issued

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares announced Wednesday that the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (Aafaf by its Spanish acronym), on behalf the Infrastructure Financing Authority (Prifa) and the Ports Authority entered into a restructuring support agreement (RSA) with the Ad Hoc Group of holders of bonds issued in 2011.

The restructuring contemplated by the RSA has two principal components.

First, the Ad Hoc Group, which holds more than 90% of the outstanding Prifa-Ports bonds, will tender all of their related holdings for their proportional share of the distribution made to Prifa under the third amended plan of adjustment of the Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corp. (Cofina by its Spanish acronym)–under Title III of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa)–on account of $91.5 million of junior Cofina bond claims held by Prifa and a $40 million promissory note.

Second, the Puerto Nuevo cargo and logistics operation in the San Juan Bay will be renewed through the Ad Hoc Group’s contribution of at least $11 million, a promissory note, to a newly formed subsidiary of the Ports Authority, and up to 10% of gross rental income generated from the property.

In exchange, the Puerto Rico Industrial, Tourist, Educational, Medical and Environmental Control Facilities Financing Authority, known as Afica, an entity created in 1977 to issue revenue bonds to finance projects for economic development, will issue new bonds to the Ad Hoc Group in a face amount equal to the projected cash flows of the property.

The deal still needs to get the green light from Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board. If approved and implemented, the proposed restructuring will reduce debt service requirements and allow the Ports Authority to focus on public-private partnerships (P3s) and other long-term capital improvements.

“The agreement represents what we can achieve when parties employ creativity and good faith to reach solutions amenable to the needs of the parties. It joins the agreements that we have already reached with the bondholders of Cofina and the Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico. Moreover, these agreements are an important step to recover access to capital markets,” Aafaf Executive Director Christian Sobrino said.

Ports Director Anthony Maceira Zayas welcomed the agreement because it will help his agency restructure a large part of its debt.

“The work led by Aafaf to reach this agreement forms part of the overall restructuring of the Ports Authority that we have been implementing at Ports since March of last year. It is important to mention that the P3 projects for the cruise terminals and the regional airports are underway, and we have monetized assets in disuse,” Maceira said in the release.

Aafaf was assisted in the negotiations by O’Melveny & Myers LLP and Pietrantoni Méndez & Álvarez LLC, as legal advisers, and Ankura as financial adviser. The Ad Hoc Group was represented by Morrison Foerster LLP and Reichard & Escalera LLC.

See the RSA filing here.




Puerto Rico gov’t publishes summary of budget submitted to fiscal board

Recommends $769 million more than for the current $8.76 billion

San Juan’s cruiseship and cargo ports three days after Hurricane María, Sept. 24, 2017. (CB photo)

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló submitted Monday for the fiscal oversight board’s consideration a General Fund-use budget for fiscal year 2020 of $9.53 billion, or $769 million more than the current $8.76 billion budget.

The document published on the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority’s (Aafaf by its Spanish acronym) website is a summary of what was presented to the fiscal board but not the detailed document required by the Constitution of Puerto Rico.

Last year, Senate Minority Leader Eduardo Bhatia filed a claim in court in which he argued successfully that under the constitutional right of access to public information the government has the obligation to publish the budget submitted by the governor to the fiscal board.

The suggested budget for the Department of Education–the government’s largest agency–would increase 15.4% with a proposed $2.86 billion, or $382 million more than for the current fiscal year.

The Public-Private Partnerships Authority would receive nearly twice what is currently available. The government has recommended $13.6 million, an increase of $6.7 million from its current $6.5 million. The Health Department would also see an increase, of $28.8 million over its current $293 million. However, the Comprehensive Cancer Center would see its budget cut by 47%, to $ 11.6 million, for fiscal 2020.

The Police Bureau, meanwhile, would get $155 million more, thus spending could reach $1 billion. Similarly, the Bureau of Forensic Sciences, an entity that has been in under scrutiny for its grave delays in processing bodies, would see an increase of only $5 million, for a total $20.2 million.

The budget for the Institute of Culture would increase by $1.7 million, to $15.4 million for the next fiscal year. The entity’s current budget is of $13.7 million.

One of the most affected government-owned entities is the University of Puerto Rico, for which $86 million was proposed cut, or 13.32% less than its current General Fund allowance of $645 million.

The Model Forest Office, which oversaw 379,000 protected acres before being merged into the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, would not have a budget for fiscal 2020, which means it would be eliminated, as would the Higher Education Council and the Public Buildings Authority.

However, the Office of the Inspector General, a newly created entity, was listed with a proposed $5.3 million for 2020. The Traffic Safety Commission would get a 65% cut and end up with a $279,000 budget. The Economic Development and Commerce Department would also be cut, by 47%, to $1.1 million despite the importance economic matters have on the island.

The recommended budget was submitted to the fiscal board pursuant to the federal Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (Promesa), which stipulates that the panel it established must determine whether the proposed budget is in accordance with the fiscal plan the board certifies. The panel would also have its budget cut 1%, or $64 million less than it has available today.

See the proposed budget here (in Spanish).




Changes in Puerto Rico governor’s cabinet announced

(CyberNews photo)

SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares announced Tuesday that Treasury Secretary Raúl Maldonado is now his new chief of staff and continues as the government’s chief financial officer.

Teresita Fuentes was appointed to replace Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority as the Treasury head. Fuentes, a CPA, was deputy Treasury secretary from 1992 to 1996. “Additionally, she was a partner of the renowned firm Ernst & Young and, since April 2017, she collaborates as a senior advisor to the Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury,” a release issued by the governor’s office, La Fortaleza, added.

Meanwhile, Trade & Export Co. Director Ricardo Llerandi is now the deputy chief of staff, at La Fortaleza, which said he “studied law at Interamerican University of Puerto Rico and was a legislative adviser and was subsequently elected by District 14 to the Puerto Rico House of Representatives.”

Rosselló also appointed Gerardo Portela, the director of the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (FAFAA), as investment officer. “Portela comes from the financial sector, standing out for his work in recognized brokerage firms,” the release adds.

Replacing Portela at FAFAA is Christian Sobrino, an economic and fiscal adviser to the governor and his representative to the island’s Financial Oversight and Management Board, as well as president of the Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico.

“My thanks to this great team for their commitment and availability to serve the People of Puerto Rico. With this new government structure, we will strengthen the firm pace of the fiscal and economic recovery and guarantee a better service to the citizenry and quality of life for our People,” Rosselló said.

Maldonado had served as Treasury secretary since his appointment in 2016. During the 1990s, he was assistant secretary of Internal Revenue at Treasury, and “has extensive experience in the private sector in firms such as Ernst & Young and Price Waterhouse, becoming a senior manager in charge of the Tax Department,” according to La Fortaleza.

The governor made the appointments public at La Fortaleza, alongside Glorimar Ripoll, government chief innovation officer, and María Palou, infrastructure adviser to the governor: “key officials in the recovery of the Island after the onslaught of Hurricane Maria,” the release reads.




Over 4,000 Puerto Rico public employees take part in Voluntary Transition Program

Gerardo Portela, director of the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (Courtesy)

SAN JUAN – The executive director of Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF), Gerardo Portela, expressed satisfaction with the second phase of the government’s Voluntary Transition Program, according to a release issued by his office.

Portela said that during the past two months, around 4,500 public employees of the Retirement System (Government Employees and Judiciary Retirement Systems Administration and Teacher Retirement System), Education Department, Public Safety Department and Economic Development Department (including ascribed agencies) requested to participate in the program, which allows eligible workers to transition to nonprofit and non-governmental organizations or the private sector in exchange for a tax-free economic incentive.

The official mentioned that the requests are being evaluated and the government entities where the applicants work must approve or deny them by July 15. In the case of Highways and Transportation Authority employees, these have until Aug. 15 to request participation in the incentivized resignation program.

“The Voluntary Transition Program is a tool that allows us to reduce public spending in payroll…in a fiscally responsible manner and in a manner compatible with the public policy of our Administration,” Portela adds in the release.

The program’s first “phase” was carried out last fiscal year, when more than 2,165 public employees left government work.

Portela said new program phases aimed at government entities that are in the process of reorganization will be implemented in the coming months.

The retirement systems for government employees and teachers was extended until Nov. 30.

Puerto Rico gov’t reminds workers about its voluntary resignation program




Puerto Rico gov’t asks fiscal board for more time to present 2019 budget

SAN JUAN – The executive director of Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (Aafaf), Gerardo Portela, on Thursday asked the island’s fiscal oversight board to readjust the timetable for the development, approval and certification of the government’s fiscal year 2019 budget.

According to the agency’s press release, in his letter to the board created by Congress under the Promesa law, Portela says that since the certification of the government’s fiscal plan was delayed, the original calendar established by the board was no longer viable.

Fiscal board establishes plans for Puerto Rico and its power and water utilities

In February, the fiscal panel set April 16 as the deadline for the government to submit the draft budget. In addition, the board established April 2 to submit the revenue estimates to the government, but neither occurred. The agency certified the government’s fiscal plans on April 19 and 20.

“In this way, the head of Aafaf urged the board to provide, as soon as possible, the estimated revenue for the next fiscal year, as required by Promesa,” the official said in a statement.

In addition, he asked that a “reasonable” calendar be established to provide the government enough time to develop a draft budget for fiscal 2019.

Portela said the letter also requests readjustments to the budget calendars of several public corporations.

Puerto Rico fiscal plan includes substantial public payroll cut

–CyberNews contributed to this report.