The UPR has a general debt of $432 million and an additional $66.5 million, corresponding to Plaza Universitaria. (horizontal-x3)
The UPR has a general debt of $432 million and an additional $66.5 million, corresponding to Plaza Universitaria. (Vanessa Serra Diaz)

For now, the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) is not considering to seek protection under Tittle III to restructure debt, granted by the federal PROMESA law.

“For the time being, it’s not necessary because we have the income from the tuition, which is the income pledged to pay for the debt,” said Norberto González, director of the Bursar’s Office of the UPR.

The UPR has a general debt of $432 million and an additional $66.5 million, corresponding to Plaza Universitaria. It’s total debt is less than 1% of the public debt, of around $69 billion.

“Naturally, if the central government decides to include the University’s debt as part of some debt restructuring process, we will conform to that,” noted González in an interview with El Nuevo Día.

While it did not submit the fiscal plan demanded by the Oversight Board (OB), the UPR is part of the Puerto Rico Fiscal Plan certified by the entity imposed on the Island by the federal Congress to balance public finances. This plan contemplates staggered cuts to the institution’s budget, which will reach $512 million over one decade.

In response, students of the 11 campuses have called for an indefinite strike as a means to pressure for the halting of the multi-million dollar income reduction.  

González indicated that the UPR is not working on another fiscal plan. However, it is preparing a budget for the fiscal year, which starts on July 1, based on proposals included in the document the Governing Board rejected on April 28 and was intended to mitigate a cutback of $149 million.

Some of these collections’ measures include a tuition adjusted based on student income, which entail around $30 million, and an additional $20 million the UPR expects to receive for services it will render to the government.

González also admitted that the Department of the Treasury has not sent the $72 million to the UPR remitted monthly to fund the institution, which since 2014 has received a fixed annual allocation of $834 million from revenues in the general fund.

The plan is compulsory. During his participation at the Expo Summit organized by the Puerto Rico College of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, OB president, José Carrión III, warned that the educational institution “sooner or later will have to submit a fiscal plan” that will set a course for the institution and that the cut to its budget “is non-negotiable.”

“I and all the members of the OB are concerned and saddened by what is happening at the UPR,” Carrión assured.

“The UPR is a public entity and an instrumentality covered under the PROMESA law,” he added when a woman, identifying herself as a student’s mother, asked him “who’s going to solve” the impasse of the UPR during a Q&A session.

Meeting demanded.  Meanwhile, the recently created National Negotiating Committee, during a press conference in Old San Juan, called on Carrión and governor Ricardo Rosselló to meet with its members on or before May 20, to start negotiations to address student grievances.

In the Central Administration, the Institutional Committee for Dialogue met with Vice President Carlos del Río and the secretary of the Governing Board, Sandra Espada, to look for alternatives to end the indefinite student strike, which started last April 6.

 Another group of professors and teachers protested in the Capitol, to defend public education and denounce attempts by the State to criminalize the protest.

In the midst of these grievances and meetings, judge Lauracelis Roques, from the Court of San Juan, issued an order warning acting rector of Río Piedras, Carmen Rivera, and acting president, Nivia Fernández, they could be sanctioned during the hearing of May 16, for failing to comply with a court order to open the gates of the Rio Piedras campus and resume the academic activities at the university campus.

The UHS steps aside. After supporting the student strike, students of the UPR’s Secondary School agreed to end their solidary strike and go back to classes next Wednesday, May 17.

Reporter Sharon Minelli Pérez cooperated in this story.


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