In the difficult situation that Puerto Rico is facing, the timely approval of the budget, a document that establishes the fiscal priorities of a government administration, is vital to facilitate the implementation of the certified Fiscal Plan with a view to getting the Government out of bankruptcy and moving forward economic recovery plans.
The delay in the Legislature Assembly in the consideration and aproval of the budget project is unacceptable. As short as the delay may be, it contrasts with the fact that the Government of Puerto Rico gave its word to have the budget project approved by monday, June 19th.
It must comply. Only then trust can be gained over the commitments the administration made. And this one is the first of many ahead.
Countersigning this roadmap of the government expense was one of the terms that the Fiscal Oversight Board set at the beginning of June, when it certified the Fiscal Plan. For the budget to be implemented by July 1st, in the beginning of the fiscal year 2017-2018, the organization draw and informed, and the Government accepted, a work schedule, in compliance with federal law PROMESA.
Just with the document at hand and in the designated date, the organization can check if the $9,172 billion budget really follows the parameters of responsibility and public expense control and the austerity measures contemplated in the Fiscal Plan for as long as ten years. The Board established June 26th as the due date to emit a certification on the budget compliance both for the Governor as well as for the Legislature.
Stabilizing public finances with a realistic budget, which does not depend on loans for operational affairs, is an essential step on a long chain of conditions necessary to accomplish the economic revitalization. To gain the market trust back, taking every step to renegotiate the payment of the $70,000 billion debt is essential for boosting the economic activity that generates jobs.
On the other hand, there must be no surprises in the budget. The government branches and within them, the executive branch with more than a hundred dependencies, must know the cuts that should be implemented. Then they can know with what resources they count on to implement their work plans and make the necessary adjustments. It is also essential that people are informed on how this fiscal adjustments can affect them.
To be effective, the Government must work as a whole and focus their resources and efforts to reach the goals previously set. With a certified Fiscal Plan and decisions taken over the claims of the Government creditors in the hands of the Federal Court, under the Title III of PROMESA, the Legislature has no excuses to delay their task.
It is up to the leaders to take and direct decisions that are necessary in their own field of action. Governor Ricardo Roselló complied with the presentation of the budget and the document is at the consideration of the legislative bodies, that have discussed it over, part by part, in public hearings.
The House of Representatives is the one called, by Constitution, to take the first action over the fiscal measures. It is the first step for the Senate to do the same. Both of them must answer to their commitment. The House has indicated that it is going to review the budget between June 20th an 21st and the Senate is on recess until Thursday June 22nd, when it will consider it for approval.
This is not the attitude towards work that the Island needs. It shows little understanding on the fiscal situation of Puerto Rico. It demonstrates disdain for the commitments made and their consequences. Doing what each one should is the way to contribute. Fullfilling their responsibilities is how leaders live up to their times.
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