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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor will insist on budget as proposed after all

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By John McPhaul

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Tuesday that after reviewing the budget, his government has determined to insist on the amount of $12.573 million, despite the fact that the Financial Oversight and Management Board requested a cut of $100 million.

“That amount originally came from the [oversight] board itself. The board had originally given way to the amount of $12.573 million for the General Fund,” the governor said in response to questions from the press. “After we submit our first version of the proposed budget, the board comes back, without further justification, and says that we must reduce it by $100 million. I said that we were going to be making the decision yesterday [Monday], that one of the options was to stay at that level because if you remember when we first submitted it, we did it based on the amount that the board gave us. And I said that even though I understood that it might be [an] older [version], I wanted to avoid that controversy. On this occasion when we went over the items and saw the impact of this reduction of $100 million, it was then that we decided that it does not make sense.”

Pierluisi said Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea certified over $750 million in excess collections for April. Regarding budget items, the main controversy continues to be funds for the municipalities.

“I was adamant that no other cut be made to the Equalization Fund, which would be $44 million, and that the contribution from the municipalities to the Vital Plan, of around $120 million a year, not be required,” the governor said. “I stood firm on that. I anticipate that, if the board does not reconsider, I am going to have a meeting with the board; it is virtual, but I am going to have it this Friday, and I am going to return to the fray to try to explain why it is necessary to support the municipalities in these two topics. If they stand firm in this position, I anticipate that the Legislative Assembly will show solidarity with my claim.”

Pierluisi noted that last year there was a controversy with the oversight board over the budget, and in the end they reconsidered in favor of the government.

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