At the end of the process that ruled out a legislation which justification was never fully proved - and that, due to its own terms, would not apply to a large part of the labor force, such as union workers - the lack of any alternative measure to direct structural reforms and other urgent changes will further undermine the state government´s credibility in the federal capital.
Regardless of merits or demerits related to the demand to eliminate Law 80, on unjust dismissals, the hard day to consider the bill has shown the inability to administer ourselves without external interventions.
During this legislative process, the creation of a public fund to cover for the compensation of potential dismissed employees from the private sector emerged as a surprising contradiction. The proposal represented a setback to the crucial objective that the government, in order to achieve its fiscal recovery, must, among other changes, stop financing the private sector. In addition, the proposal involved the modification of a law created to address dismissals related to discrimination and through juggling articulation would include provisions that would doubly penalize employers.
First of all, this impasse calls into question the level of commitment to the crucial changes that the island needs for its economic development. It puts at risk the new budget process, the reforms and the fiscal plan which certification can be reverted back by the Oversight Board. Today, the state government´s willingness to ensure that its work with the Board in achieving the goals set by PROMESA would be effective, is in suspense.
The political environment seems to ignore that the Board exists by virtue of a law passed in Congress and the White House with the purpose to establish non-deficit budgets and, at the same time, clearing the way to debt payment. The return of the government to the investment markets depends on this binomial, without which it will not be able to do public works because the island does not have repayment capacity and that´s why PROMESA was created.
Therefore, it is time to recapitulate and show that there is a strong ruling class that can achieve, without further harmful delays for the people, the strength to resolve with already drawn options and ideas, without improvisation, the necessary steps to redirect the island. This is the message a day framed in the debate of the repeal of a law that has seemed to blur majority consensus between the Legislature, the Executive Branch and the Board, which ensures necessary changes to defined terms.
It is essential to have a budget for FY 2018-2019 in the short term. It should be clear over its revenue projection and the distribution of expenses that the state government is aiming to achieve, fiscal discipline and disbursement control. The budget includes income from important measures to be legislated such as a new Incentive Code and a Tax Reform.
Given this uncertain scenario, the Board has warned that it can revert back the plan's certification and adopt its own budget. That budget would contain the adjustments in labor benefits that the entity proposed and ruled out after reaching an agreement with the Government. Therefore, the clash of powers, as well as the challenge launched from the Insular Capitol to the Board´s authority can not be extended. It is urgent to rescue the unity of purpose.
The only interest that prevails before this crossroad is to place the island as top priority. Today, prudence should prevail above all. It is urgent to act in order to respond to the elderly as well as to children, who suffer the most the lack of essential services. It is imperative to take action to also serve young people, who see limited progress opportunities on the island. We must move with firm steps for the welfare of all, in an island with enormous potential to recover and resume a route of development and hope.
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