Wed, Jul 04, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Puerto Rican governor rejects board’s budget

AP, SAN JUAN

A disagreement over which budget Puerto Rico will use this fiscal year has deepened as the governor of the US territory on Monday signed the version approved by legislators instead of the one implemented by a US federal control board over the weekend.

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello said the board’s budget is not in Puerto Rico’s best interest and that he is prepared to defend his decision, leading many to believe the issue might end up in court as Puerto Rico tries to restructure a portion of its US$70 billion public debt load amid an 11-year recession.

“I’m going to use all the tools I have in my arsenal to be able to defend the people of Puerto Rico,” he told reporters.

However, Rossello acknowledged that Puerto Ricans struggling after Hurricane Maria could still be hit by new austerity measures.

“I fear this is a symbolic gesture,” he said, referring to the signing of the legislators’ version of the budget.

He added that a judge could rule in favor of the board.

Natalie Jaresko, the board’s executive director, told a round table of reporters on Monday afternoon that she was not aware of Rossello’s actions and said the board would talk with government officials before taking any steps.

“We will do everything within our means ... to enforce the budget,” she said. “Courts are the first thing that comes to mind.”

However, she added that going to court would be “an unfortunate use of energy, efforts and taxpayer funds.”

Rossello later held a televised public address in which he called for an extraordinary legislative session in the hopes it would help overcome the differences between the board and his administration.

He said legislators would consider several measures including one that would reduce tax rates for individuals and corporations, and another that would repeal a law that affords protections to workers who might have been unfairly dismissed.

The board had said that if legislators repealed that law, it would help boost the island’s economy and would allow it to grant certain concessions that Rossello’s administration was seeking.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top