Ramón Rosario, La Fortaleza Public Affairs Secretary. (semisquare-x3)
Ramón Rosario, La Fortaleza Public Affairs Secretary.

In an attempt to stop the austerity measures promoted by the Oversight Board, the government announced that

it will challenge the actions of the federal entity before the US First Circuit of Appeals Court in Boston, while assessing the impact of the new Fiscal Plan in the services offered by the agencies.

"The first hopes are in the lawsuit and, otherwise, what the governor (Ricardo Rosselló Nevares) would have done was adjustments and promoting the economic development of Puerto Rico within the limitations being imposed on us," said La Fortaleza Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario.

The appeal will seek to revoke Judge Laura Taylor Swain´s decision, who ruled that the Board´s budget prevails over that approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor.

"We asked for authorization (from Judge Swain) to appeal that at the Circuit (in Boston) ... Last Friday, she authorized the appeal. It is being prepared to be filed within the period ... I think it's 30 days," Rosario added.

Meanwhile, yesterday, Rosselló expressed his disagreement with the new Fiscal Plan certified by the Board. He denounced that "these more aggressive cuts" will leave a $ 17 billion surplus by 2023, "money that would be accessible to bondholders, but would be in detriment to the most vulnerable and  our people".

"This is simply unfair ... This is not a fiscal plan for economic development, this is an austerity plan," Rosselló added, in a message broadcasted on social networks, while the Board was holding a public meeting where the Fiscal Plan was approved.

While the legal battle against the Board in Boston takes place, Chief of Staff Raúl Maldonado said yesterday that he is still assessing the impact of the new Fiscal Plan.

"To develop the economy, we have to reinvest. But if the measures are too restrictive that will curb long-term economic development," said Maldonado.

Regarding the government operation, Maldonado said he is requesting each agency to readjust the budget.

"I am modifying the budget within the same agency since the adjustments they made, in the operational line, often prevent us – at some point – from providing essential services to the people," said Maldonado, who emphasized that they have given priority to the Department of Justice and the Police.

Response to Trump

Yesterday, the President of the United States Donald Trump affirmed that he will avoid the funds allocated to mitigate the disaster caused by hurricane María to be used by the island´s "inept politicians" to pay off old obligations.

Reacting to that message, Rosselló ignored the “inept politicians” part, and said he agreed with the US President's proposal to avoid the use of Hurricane María recovery funds to pay the debt with bondholders.

" I agree with youMr. President, that’s why I’m opposing the Oversight Board’s outrageous plan that would severely hamper Puerto Rico’s recovery and growth," Rosselló wrote in replying to Trump´s tweet.

According to Rosario, the government's position is that Trump's message was directed to the Board, since its fiscal plan allocates "federal funds available for other obligations, such as creditors."

"What the government is saying is:  that $ 17 billion package should be used, precisely, for economic growth so that, when federal funds run out, we would have a developed island on an economic level," Rosario said.

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