The San Juan Daily Star
Fiscal board agrees to talks on early retirement for public workers
By The Star Staff
The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico has agreed to negotiate with the island government the implementation of early retirement benefits for public workers even though it had previously tried to invalidate a law to that effect in court.
Act 80 of 2020 is an early retirement bill for all public workers that was one of three laws that the oversight board had invalidated in court. The fiscal board said it would be willing to create an early retirement program whose scope is limited to non-essential workers.
“The Oversight Board remains willing to endeavor to reach an agreement for the implementation of early retirement benefits defined in Act 80-2020 that is consistent with the December 28, 2021 order of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico,” the board said.
The oversight board said a potential path for an agreement could be to implement Act 80 with respect to non-essential employees – subject to satisfying the requirements of the court order. In the most recent data submitted to the board, it said, the government has not identified which non-essential positions it proposed to eliminate to achieve the necessary savings, as required under the court order and a condition for any agreement. The court order established a June 11 deadline for an agreement.
Nevertheless, based on the government’s data, the oversight board said it estimates that, under the right circumstances, some level of savings could be achieved if non-essential employees were permitted to retire early and if the other conditions of the court order were satisfied.
“Accordingly, the Oversight Board is willing to focus on the non-essential employees and discuss a possible agreement with the Government,” the board said.
In a recent letter to Omar Marrero Díaz, executive director of the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority, the oversight board asked him to identify the proposed eliminated positions.
While Marrero said savings could be more than $410 million, the oversight board’s estimates indicated savings would be significantly less than that sum.
The oversight board said it is willing to discuss with the government:
* the possibility of designating the positions of the non-essential employees who chose early retirement as the proposed eliminated positions;
* whether the government would be able to maintain adequate public services following the permanent elimination of the positions of the non-essential employees, as required under the order;
* and whether the government and the oversight board can reach agreement on the remaining requirements of the order as regards non-essential employees.
“The Oversight Board is eager to discuss these issues and looks forward to reviewing the Government’s Proposed Eliminated Positions during or in advance of any meeting,” the board said.