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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

PREPA retirees allege ‘strategy’ to eliminate pension fund

Johnny Rodríguez Ortiz, president of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Retirees Association

By The Star Staff

The Energy Alliance of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) Employees and Retirees alleged Tuesday that in a “concerted and malicious strategy” between Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, the Financial Oversight and Management Board, and Fiscal Agency Financial Advisory Authority Executive Director Omar Marrero Díaz are eliminating the pension fund of the PREPA Employee Retirement System as soon as the end of May.

The Energy Alliance warned that “Governor Pierluisi and Mr. Omar Marrero do not want the Retirement System to remain alive, they want to make it disappear.”

“Therefore, the $64 million that the fiscal control board authorized to transfer from PREPA’s budget to our Retirement System to cover the months of May and June has not been deposited,” they said. “Those millions of dollars are in the coffers of the Electric Power Authority, which owes us about $950 million.”

Johnny Rodríguez Ortiz, president of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Retirees Association and a member of the alliance, said that “therefore, the Authority requested the balance available in the pension fund to complete the payroll of May 30 and as soon as those checks are cashed, the fund would be practically zero, preventing the Retirement System from fulfilling other contractual obligations, such as the funeral expenses of a member, and liquidations of years of salaries, among others.”

Rodríguez stressed that “we hope that the Retirement System receives the money necessary to cover pensions three days before the checks of our pensioners come out, remembering that Monday, May 29 is a holiday and the checks must be deposited and available on Tuesday, May 30 in the accounts of retirees.”

“We are under the impression that the Board is going to give in to the demands of the bondholders, increasing the [debt payment] offer and publicly disguising that additional amount, such as money for the payment of pensions,” he said. “The members who support these statements denounce the emotional and disorienting abuse that this government continues to cause to our retirees, many of them over 90 years old and others with their health compromised, who call our offices daily to obtain certainty about whether their pension will be available at the end of the month -- an answer we don’t have because the government refuses to provide us with that information and continues to make false promises to us.”

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