Fiscal board approves use of Emergency Reserve Fund amid tropical storm emergency

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star

The Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) approved on Thursday the use of the Emergency Reserve Fund for 15 days to cover expenses from Tropical Storm Isaias.

In a brief letter that was posted on social media platforms, FOMB Executive Director Natalie Jaresko approved Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority Executive Director Omar Marrero’s request to access the Emergency Reserve Fund for a period of 15 days to cover any expenses incurred in the tropical storm emergency.

The request was subject to pre-authorization by the island Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“The 15-day period expires on August 13, 2020. Once the access period to the Emergency Reserve has ended, the OMB must submit to the Oversight Board a detail of the expenditures incurred during the emergency,” Jaresko said in the letter. “We look forward to working with you to accomplish the requirements and goals of PROMESA [the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act] for the benefit of the people of Puerto Rico.”

Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced, meanwhile, visited the municipalities of Las Piedras, Naguabo, Humacao, Yabucoa and Maunabo on Thursday in response to the weather emergency. Earlier that day, she thanked citizens for staying inside their homes and other safe places during the emergency.

“It’s important for citizens to stay in a safe place,” Vázquez said. “Remain inside your residences; do not go out unless it is for an essential matter.”

As for interruptions in service from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, the governor said both will be back again “as soon as possible, as soon as the weather conditions allow it.”

At press time, 58 people were staying in some 33 shelters, while 65 refuge centers were open and available upon mayors’ requests. Meanwhile, more than 400,000 PREPA clients had no electric power and the authority only had 200 workers available to work with a distribution system that has 900,000 utility poles.

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