Pierluisi commits to amending transparency law ‘in any way or fashion that makes sense’
NPP gubernatorial candidate reacts to Senate salaries revelations
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
New Progressive Party gubernatorial candidate Pedro Pierluisi said Wednesday that, as governor of Puerto Rico, he would review Law 141-2019, the Transparency and Expedited Procedure for Access to Public Information Law, to ensure transparency in public information after Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz released a list with most upper chamber employees’ salaries after Superior Court Judge Anthony Cuevas Ramos ruled in favor of a lawsuit filed by Citizen Victory Movement District 3 House of Representatives candidate Eva Prados Rodríguez.
House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez has yet to release invoices, payrolls and contracts from the lower chamber.
“When I was briefly at La Fortaleza, for five days I was the governor of Puerto Rico; back then, that was an issue and I promised back then that I would sit down with the leaders of the press to make sure we amend that law, in any way or fashion that makes sense to ensure transparency, to ensure that the press has the access it needs to do its job, so count on me for that,” Pierluisi said during a press conference where the former resident commissioner presented his government plan titled “Puerto Rico Promete,” which focuses on issues such as economic development, government excellence, quality of life and statehood.
The NPP gubernatorial candidate and former two-term resident commissioner said one of his proposals to help the fight against corruption is to make the public contracting process in Puerto Rico “truly transparent and competitive, from start to finish.”
“What we’re proposing to do is to have in Puerto Rico an office of personnel management (OPM), along the same lines that you have in the federal government. That OPM not only will set forth to establish the general schedule system, which we call the Uniform Classification and Remuneration Plan, for all the employees of the government of Puerto Rico,” Pierluisi said. “It will do that, but it will do more than that; like the OPM, it would be in charge of hiring the civil servants of Puerto Rico, and doing it based on merit, not based on political or partisan reasons, or any other improper reasons.”
Meanwhile, Pierluisi added that he is in favor of applying a Uniform Classification and Remuneration Plan to every employee in every government branch as “we want wage justice for the public employees from the central government.”
“In the case of the House and Senate, my position is that they should also establish a classification and compensation plan that is clear, transparent, in which it is known what is paid for similar functions, that the different jobs’ classifications involving the House and the Senate be made and that it be known to the public. Who earns more, how much, and why.
Because their jobs are more onerous and complex than that of someone else who earns less,” Pierluisi said. “Also, a healthy public administration principle is that the supervisors earn more than the supervised; as a general rule, that’s what should be followed because that’s what makes you aspire for more. The more responsibilities you earn, the more you should earn.”
As for the revelations of Senate employees’ salaries, Pierluisi said that as “the Senate has already done so, so it is appropriate, in my opinion, for the House to do the same.”
Pierluisi keeps an eye on PREPA-LUMA Energy agreement
As for LUMA Energy’s closing agreement to manage the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) transmission and distribution system for 15 years, Pierluisi said his commitment is to inspect the agreement and ensure that it complies with Law 120-2018’s [Law to Transform Puerto Rico’s Electrical Grid] legislative intention to reduce the authority’s operating costs.
“There cannot be rate increases due to increased administrative costs of the authority; that is ruled out, and we are going to make sure that this is the case,” he said. “Law 120-2018 also said the acquired rights of the employees of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority employees cannot be affected in accordance with the collective agreement or contract, as appropriate, and we will ensure that. Any PREPA employee who wants to work under a public-private partnership has to receive the same compensation and extra benefits that [he or she] currently receives under the authority.”
When a member of the press asked Pierluisi if the LUMA Energy agreement already needs to be renegotiated, he said he will ensure that the corporation is using adequate metrics to enforce the contract.