Washington– Carlos Rodríguez, President of the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association, pushed in Congress this week for a public hearing on PREPA’s Preliminary Restructuring Support Agreement (RSA).
Rodríguez said he met with Congressional officials on Wednesday to promote that proposal and that he took his complaints about RSA to Treasury and Energy department officials.
Last week, the Private Sector Coalition, which includes the Manufacturers Association, formally requested Democrat Raúl Grijalva (Arizona), chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, to hold a public hearing on PREPA´s RSA.
“We want to be heard in Congress,” said Rodríguez after meeting with advisors to Democrats Grijalva, Nydia Velázquez (New York), José Serrano (New York), Republican Don Young (Alaska), and officials from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
He also had a meeting with Washington Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González; Gary Grippo, the Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary for public finance, and the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Electricity, Bruce Walker.
Representatives Grijalva, Velázquez and Soto filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the territorial bankruptcy court to oppose RSA, which according to a study by economist Ramón Cao could represent a 47 percent increase in electricity rates.
Under the RSA, PREPA’s debt cut would remain at 32.5 percent but could drop to 22.5 percent if PREPA's finances improve. Experts say the debt cut should be about 80 percent.
Last Tuesday, five Republicans – including Republican Minority Leader in the Natural Resources Committee, Rob Bishop (Utah) – asked Grijalva, Velázquez, and Soto to withdraw the appeal.
Rodríguez, however, said that manufacturers "are really concerned about (impact of the RSA on) the cost of energy" and added that energy costs “should help to work for economic growth, not to delay it."
The President of the Manufacturers Association said he was surprised that Commissioner González told him she has no position on RSA. He also considered that Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced´s ambivalent position regarding the RSA may be based on the fact that “she is choosing not to confront the Board.”