Governor takes retirement disclosure statement to court

By John McPhaul

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced on Tuesday that he will be filing an objection with the Federal Court of the District of Puerto Rico to the Disclosure Statement of the Debt Adjustment Plan of the Government of Puerto Rico, reiterating his opposition to cuts in the government pension system.

“This objection that we are submitting today to the Court is part of the actions we have taken in favor of our pensioners,” the governor said in a written statement. “I reiterate my commitment to them and I maintain that this Government does not favor any cuts to pensions. Our retirees spent years of their lives in public service and have already suffered a reduction in their income, so it is unfair and unnecessary to insist on cuts in their pensions. As I have said, although I support the financial terms of the Debt Adjustment Plan presented before the Title Three Court, I cannot endorse a cut in pensions.”

“My Government will continue to express itself in the pertinent forums so that an Adjustment Plan is approved that does not affect our pensioners,” he added.

Pierluisi said the objection warns that there is no space in his government for the approval of legislation that proposes cuts to pensions, or any situation in which the federal Financial Oversight and Management Board has not explained how the adjustment plan will be implemented if legislation is not passed to that end. In addition, it is established that the document submitted by the oversight board does not explain that pensioners have already suffered cuts in the past as a result of the fiscal situation, nor does it detail the social and economic consequences of further affecting this sector of the population.

The objection that the government will present also indicates that the oversight board in its declaration does not explain that all pensioners would have to vote for the cuts, including those that would not apply to them.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rep. Lourdes Ramos, author of the Dignified Retirement Law, demanded that the

Oversight board desist from exacting “revenge” against Puerto Rico’s retirees, the vast majority of whom, she said, are grandparents who use their scarce resources to pay for the educational needs of their grandchildren.

Ramos also asked Pierluisi “not to backpedal in the face of the threats by the executive director of the oversight board, Natalie Jaresko, who thundered against the approval of the statute that establishes zero cuts to pensions as the public policy of the public sector.”

Ramos said “it is very comfortable to play with someone else’s money, as since it began operations, what the board has done is to increase its budget year after year unilaterally and without further consideration.”

“The scissors are good for them, but very sharp for the vulnerable sectors,” Ramos said in a written statement. “This is easy! It seems to me to be an attitude that belittles the sacrifice of those who gave their productive lives to the service of Puerto Rico, and we are not going to tolerate that.”

When he signed the Dignified Retirement Law, Pierluisi stressed that the statute sought to affirm that there was no fiscal or legal justification for the additional cuts in pensions that the oversight board is pursuing as part of the debt adjustment plan. He highlighted that in 2013 the government reformed the pension system.

Ramos, who is well versed in the subject of pensions and authored a package of measures that have sought to finance the system, said the Dignified Retirement Act does not cost the treasury an additional cent.

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