• The Star Staff

Governor to meet with oversight board Friday; required to turn in FY 2021 budget plan soon

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Tuesday that he will be present at Friday’s ordinary meeting of the Financial Oversight and Management Board.

Pierluisi is required to turn in the draft of the Puerto Rico government’s fiscal year 2021 annual budget at the end of January. The oversight board is also in the middle of debt negotiations.

“From this Friday onward, I will be sitting with the [oversight] board, something that no governor has done so far,” Pierluisi said at a press conference.

“I will have a voice,” he added. “I will not have a vote, but I will make myself felt and there are areas that I have already identified that the board knows that I am going there [to discuss].”

The governor said those points include salary justice for public employees in a way that facilitates the recruitment of professionals. He offered as an example that a government accountant earns a base salary of $1,500 a month.

The other issue the governor plans to discuss are the cuts to the University of Puerto Rico, which he believes must cease. Also, he will advocate for municipalities and pensioners.

“In the budget area, what I am going to be demanding from the board is respect for the government of Puerto Rico,” Pierluisi said. “The board has the duty to establish the projection of [revenue] collections, but I will ensure that this collection estimate is fair and reasonable. And when it comes to setting up the budget, that will be key.”

During the electoral campaign, Pierluisi established that he would actively participate in meetings with the oversight board.

Governor: Calls for repeal of Electoral Code play to the crowd

Meanwhile, Pierluisi said he will not repeal the Electoral Code.

“Let them say that they are going to repeal the entire Electoral Code, but what is left then? They are really playing to the crowd there,” the governor said. “What they have to do is identify the areas in which they want to make changes and justify those changes, not play to the crowd.”

Pierluisi said he is not willing to repeal the vote by mail and early voting. However, he believes that the Administrative Board for Absentee and Early Voting was not prepared to deal with the number of votes received in the recent elections. In this case, one amendment he said he might consider would be to change the voting dates so that the votes can be counted smoothly.

Among other changes that he would be willing to evaluate, the governor mentioned the issue of the representation of minority parties in the State Elections Commission, where currently only the New Progressive and Popular Democratic parties have the right to administrative representation.

“If you submit to me any bill that amends it, what I’m going to be ensuring is that the change is duly justified,” Pierluisi said.

The governor’s statements were made at a press conference after he received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Guard vaccination center in Bayamón.

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