Puerto Rico OKs Budget But Will the Board?

A budget for the fiscal year that begins Saturday is on its way from the Legislative Assembly to Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares – but whether it is the final budget for Fiscal Year 2018 is unclear.

The Senate passed the legislation early Sunday morning after the House of Representatives did Friday night.

Rossello’s Secretary of Public Affairs said that the Governor will sign it even though not all of the changes sought by the PROMESA fiscal control board were made.

He recognized, however, that the Financial Oversight and Management Board could refuse to certify the budget as consistent with the 10-year fiscal adjustment plan that it adopted and changes could be made before Saturday and the Board could impose its own budget for the territorial government. He disclosed that the Board was apprised of the details of the legislation by Saturday.

Regarding the reduction in government employees working hours and elimination of their ‘Christmas Bonus’ if a $200 million budgetary reserve insisted upon by the Board is not identified, Rosario asserted, “We are not going to do it.” He followed that, however, by explaining, “We will achieve the additional revenue called for by the plan. We will make the adjustments in expenses but in other area, without affecting the most vulnerable.” He suggested that this could be done by the Governor after adoption of the budget.

Rossello, meanwhile, had his own tough words for the Board, seizing upon a recognition by Board Chairman Jose Carrion that it is “an imposition and undemocratic.” The Governor stated that, “It is regrettable that a Puerto Rican agreed to lead a board that he considers to be undemocratic and, worse, an imposition on Puerto Rico.”

Meanwhile, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives committee that oversees territory issues, including PROMESA, said that the Committee on Natural Resources would hold a hearing on the implementation of PROMESA after the August Congressional ‘recess.’  He, earlier, suggested that the hearing would be held in July.

Rob Bishop (R-UT), a principal author of the law, emphasized that he “would like the Board to move faster,” without seeming to criticize it too much.

 

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