After announcing he would send a letter to Rob Bishop, chairman of the US House Committee on Natural Resources, Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares described Bishop’s letter to the Fiscal Control Board as an “attack upon the Puerto Rican people,” and claimed that it is “rife with errors”.
“The letter wasn’t addressed to me, but I felt it was an attack upon the Puerto Rican people. I will outline the contents of this letter, without revealing too much, just to point out that it is rife with errors and false allegations. It seems that Congressman Rob Bishop would prefer bondholders to get more money, instead of looking out for the wellbeing of the American citizens living in Puerto Rico,” Rosselló Nevares stated in a press conference.
Last Thursday, Congressman Bishop sent a letter to the members of the Fiscal Control Board (FCB) expressing his frustration with the Board’s inability to reach consensual restructuring agreements with the local government’s creditors. In that regard, Bishop urged the Board to work closely with the creditors to finalize and approve the fiscal plans.
Bishop presides the congressional Committee with jurisdiction over issues related to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In fact, his intervention in support of the bondholders was key to lead Congress to process and approve the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).
After the FCB returned the fiscal plan drafts developed by the government for a second time with additional recommendations for stronger austerity measures, the Governor proclaimed he would not give in to these new recommendations. He also warned that the Board is insisting on exercising powers not bestowed upon them by PROMESA, and that this federal act clearly states that the local government shall keep its executive powers.
The FCB set April 5 (Thursday) as the deadline for the government to submit the revised fiscal plans. If the Board decides not to approve the government's fiscal plan, PROMESA allows for the Board to certify its own fiscal plan, which will be deemed as approved by the governor without his prior endorsement. The letter was already sent
In the afternoon, Rosselló Nevares issued a letter to Congressman Bishop urging him to adopt a balanced approach encompassing the concerns of all interested parties in Puerto Rico, not just those of the bondholders.
The letter was sent to the chairman of the US House Committee on Natural Resources—a congressional organism that is charged with issues regarding Puerto Rico and the territories—in response to a letter the congressman sent last week to the Fiscal Oversight Board.
“My administration has engaged both creditors and the (Fiscal Oversight) Board in an attempt to achieve as many consensual resolutions as possible throughout this process and will continue to do so. But grandstanding and one-sided letter-writing campaigns have no place in ensuring the people of Puerto Rico’s future successes,” Rosselló pointed out in his letter.
The Governor went over the provisions established in PROMESA and the determinations made in federal court, which clearly state that the Fiscal Oversight Board may not seize the powers belonging to the government elected by the Puerto Rican people.
“I am deeply dismayed that your letter (which callously pays lip service to the people of Puerto Rico as second-class citizens) expresses primary concern regarding a ‘lack of creditor engagement’ on the part of the Oversight Board, instead of expressing support for Puerto Rico and her people (whom you refer to as your ‘American brethren’). By demanding that the Board usurp the function of Puerto Rico’s elected Government, your letter shows complete disregard for Puerto Rico’s constitution, its laws and the will of the 3.4 million American citizens who live there,” reads the letter sent by the Puerto Rican governor.
Governor Rosselló also noted that the House Committee on Natural Resources has two possible paths: to support the spirit of PROMESA, which “has resulted in significant progress, including approval and certification of fiscal plans and budgets for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its instrumentalities,” or “obstructionist behavior that would undermine the duly elected Government’s authority and legitimacy.”
“Sidelining the elected Government will result only in chaos and confusion, which bondholders will seek to capitalize on to further undermine the statutory foundation of the restructuring process. In fact, as noted below, bondholders are currently pursuing this strategy by challenging PROMESA’s constitutional underpinnings. If their ploy is successful, it will jeopardize months of progress, crippling the Government and Oversight Board’s ability to restructure Puerto Rico’s debts,” the governor warned.
“I can assure you that the people of Puerto Rico, and those citizens with close ties to the Island residing in the mainland United States (leaving behind their friends and family), are watching these events closely. If the Committee, led by you, Mr. Chairman, persists on this ruinous path, the people of Puerto Rico and their brothers and sisters on the mainland will know who to hold accountable,” Rosselló Nevares added in the letter sent to Congressman Bishop.
In his letter, the governor also denounced that Congressman Bishop is using the same argument presented by creditors in court to ask the Fiscal Oversight Board to determine which public services are essential.
Read the letter Rosselló sent to Bishop