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(GFR Media)

PROMESA gives the Oversight Board power to repeal laws when they interfere with the fiscal plan and to unilaterally modify the budget if the government does not achieve the established revenues and savings goals.

However, according to two experts, popular antipathy and the lack of knowledge about public management seem to be holding the Board back.

 "The government does not care about the fiscal plan, what matters is being re-elected," said lawyer John Mudd, who has closely followed the operation of the Board and bankruptcy cases under PROMESA Title III.

"Here, no one wants to be the bad guy in the movie," said Mario Negrón Portillo, Public Administration professor.

On Monday, just when the First Circuit Court of Appeals was examining a request from the Electric and Irrigation Industry Workers Union (Utier, Spanish acronym), Aurelius Capital and other investment funds, for PROMESA to be declared unconstitutional, José B. Carrión, the Board´s president, sent a letter to Rosselló Nevares indicating that his government “has not always fulfilled its obligations under PROMESA.”

Among other things, Carrión pointed out that, since August, Rosselló Nevares has signed a hundred bills into law without the Board´s approval or without stating whether they are consistent with the certified fiscal plan, and that he has not submitted comprehensive information on the expenses for the first quarter of the fiscal year according to the certified budget.

Immediately after, the government representative before the Board, Christian Sobrino Vega, told El Nuevo Día that if the Executive branch does not comply with PROMESA, it is the Board’s fault, since the federal entity made "dramatic" cuts to the budgets of the Office of Management and Budget (OGP, Spanish acronym) and the Department of the Treasury.

This newspaper learned that Sobrino Vega´s expressions caused discomfort in the Board. But the entity said yesterday that they had no further comments on the matter.

It is not the first time that the Board tells Rosselló Nevares that he does not comply with PROMESA. The Board raised the same issue before because the government did not publish pension payment reports and to request reports on tax benefits. The Executive branch complied with such requirements after that.

The Board sent similar requests on the Legislature expenses and the number of employees, as well as the levels of attendance, but received no response.

Reasons for not taking action

For Mudd, the Board shows an attitude of leniency towards the government. It is not until the Board is questioned - like last Monday when the constitutionality of PROMESA was discussed in Boston - that the body appears to be firm, the lawyer added.

According to Negrón Portillo, for better or for worse, the reluctance of the Board to take action may be motivated by several factors.

"Here, there might be solidarity reasons between some members of the Board and Rosselló," said Negrón Portillo.

He noted that the dynamic that prevails between the Board and Rosselló is similar to that in other Puerto Rico-related issues, where parties that have some relationship avoid "pressuring" each other.

For Negrón Portillo, the surprising thing is that, even after the fiscal debacle, they still pass laws without examining their impact on the Treasury.

He thinks that whether or not it is consistent with the fiscal plans approved by the Board, differences without consequences only prolong the existence of the entity with powers over the elected government of the island.

According to Negrón Portillo, doubts about the financial projections in fiscal plans and the real scope of the proposed solutions are also among the reasons that seem to affect the Board.

"What seems clear is the inability to make decisions, there is a lack of knowledge in the area of public management... Therefore, we are still on this path," said Negrón Portillo.


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