PDP lawmaker: State secretary-designate may be wearing too many hats
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
As the island Legislature set about evaluating the appointment of Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF by its Spanish initials) Executive Director Omar Marrero Díaz as secretary of state on Tuesday, House Government Committee Chairman Jesús Manuel Ortiz said the prospect of holding more than one post could work against Marrero’s confirmation in the lower chamber.
When asked if Marrero’s performance could be affected by assuming more than one executive position in the government, Ortiz said he is concerned that the secretary-designate, who is the acting governor until Wednesday as Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia is at a public-private partnership convention in Dallas, occupying more posts “puts power on one figure.”
“It is a concentration of power that is too much given the fact that AAFAF, in recent years, has been granted additional powers to those it had when that agency was created,” the Popular Democratic Party lawmaker said. “I think one of the things that I will take into consideration is the public policies he is going to endorse.”
“I think this is a determination that every legislator must choose [for themselves],” he added. “I’m going to portray what has been today’s hearing in that [committee] report and each can come to their conclusions.”
During Tuesday’s public hearing in the Capitol’s Audience Hall 1, Marrero insisted that Pierluisi endorses AAFAF continuing to lead efforts until the public debt adjustment is fulfilled.
“The debt restructuring process, both of the central government and of other public corporations, is already at a fairly advanced stage,” he said. “We do not want this progress to be derailed and affect the exit of the Financial Oversight and Management Board.”
“If there is one thing I can assure you, it is that from the moment I joined AAFAF in August 2019, that has been the goal, to end the fiscal oversight board, end the bankruptcy and recover fiscal autonomy,” he added. “We understand, including myself, that any change in AAFAF’s leadership could have an impact on that process and, secondly, on the disbursement of federal funds through the COVID-19 pandemic.”
However, in response to questions from Ortiz, Marrero was not specific about when he might terminate his executive role in the entity that serves as the government’s fiscal agent, and even left open the possibility of remaining in the position until the end of the four-year term.
“This is not any appointment, this is the second-in-command; he is in charge of the fiscal agency and of allocating funds to the agencies along with the financial board,” Ortiz said as he criticized Marrero’s performance as the chief executive of the Center for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) and the $1.8 million allocation to cover expenses for the election to choose pro-statehood shadow delegates to Congress held last May.
However, when asked if he would be voting against Marrero’s appointment, Ortiz said he would say so after the evaluation efforts come to an end.