The Secretary of Public Affairs at La Fortaleza, Ramón Rosario, confirmed yesterday that "at some point early this week," the Executive branch will submit to the Legislature the bills that should give way to a new Incentive Code and the repealing the Unjust Dismissal statute (Law 80-1976).
However, Thomas Rivera Schatz, president of the Senate, warned that the bills should be before the consideration of the body today, in order for the Assembly to address them responsibly. Even so, he did not assure that both measures can be discussed during this session
"What happens is that the one who is filing them late is the Executive branch. If they filed them on Monday (today), and hopefully that's the case, we would only have 23 days (to debate them); and we are not going to do this lightly, we are going to address this with a high sense of responsibility. If we had the time, excellent, if we did not have the time, then it would be during the next (session), " Rivera Schatz said.
Rosario recalled that the new Incentive Code, announced on April 15, goes hand in hand with the tax reform and that is why it is important that both are addressed in parallel. However, the Legislature has the tax reform under consideration since April 17, contrary to the Incentive Code, which has not been submitted yet.
The Incentive Code would be the bill to generate the funds or savings necessary to finance the reductions in taxes and contributions included in the new tax system.
"I think that the tax reform and the Incentive Code should have been filed together in order for us to be able to address the Budget bill with a better understanding and information", agreed Rivera Schatz.
Both the repeal of Law 80 and the tax reform were part of Governor Ricardo Rosselló's conversation with the Oversight Board with the aim of guaranteeing the Christmas bonus and vacation and sick leave, according to the Executive branch.
El Nuevo Día found out that the House already has the 26 votes for the repeal of Law 80. However, in the Senate only two senators have publicly responded to Rossello's call. Rivera Schatz has maintained his rejection of the elimination of the statute.
"I have the impression that there is no guarantee," Rivera Schatz said.
Last week, Natalie Jaresko, the Board´s Executive Director, warned that if the Legislature and the governor do not approve, -on or before June 27- the law that will change labor-management relations in Puerto Rico, the “agreement” with Rosselló will have no effect.
In an interview with this newspaper, the House president, Carlos "Johnny" Méndez, said that the bill that would eliminate Law 80 can be considered by that body or by the Special Commission for the Reconstruction and Reorganization of Puerto Rico.
Rivera Schatz said that today they must also have the analysis made by the federal agency on the economic benefits that the elimination of the statute would have for Puerto Rico.
"I've been asking it for more than a month ... We'll see if that document comes, if it's consistent and if it has substance and content. We are going to examine it with a high sense of responsibility, "he said, adding that he will make it public.
No effect on Representatives
Méndez described Jaresko´s expressions as false, the Board´s Executive Director said that the Governor had negotiated the repeal of Law 80 in exchange for a budget increase for his office.
Starting next fiscal year, the Office of the Governor will have a budget increase by 182 percent compared to the current budget. Méndez said that this issue had no effect on the representatives who have agreed to favor the Executive's proposal.
"No, none. I don´t think it´s true because from the beginning the governor talked to us and told us what the conversations consisted of, "he said.
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