Ramos Parés confirmed as Education secretary
By The Star Staff
After a year and two months, the Senate on Wednesday confirmed Eliezer Ramos Parés as Education secretary but failed to reach an agreement on crucial legislation to advance debt restructuring.
The Senate, at press time, had not brought to a vote the bill that would amend the budget to allocate funding to pay the central government debt. The legislation also creates a pork barrel fund for lawmakers totalling $50 million.
Ramos Parés’ appointment went to a Senate vote six days after the then-designated Education chief appeared before the Senate Government Committee to answer questions about school closings. He has said the agency does not plan to close schools.
The Senate Nominations Committee favored the nominee with 10 votes and one vote against from Citizen Victory Movement Sen. Ana Irma Rivera Lassén.
The possibility remained at press time that the resolution that authorizes the payment to bondholders and creditors could fall short of passage because the New Progressive Party (NPP) delegation announced it was voting against the legislation. The bill needs 14 votes in the Senate.
The future of the resolution is uncertain even though NPP senators are getting about $9 million from the pork barrel.
The House approved the resolution that authorizes the payment to bondholders and creates a barrel of $50 million on Tuesday. The Financial Oversight and Management Board imposed a deadline Friday to lawmakers or it is going to approve its own version of the budget.
“The measure remains alive, but nothing can be done because the deadline imposed by the Financial Oversight [and Management] Board was not met,” Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago said.
In an aside with the press, Dalmau Santiago accused the NPP delegation of leaving control of the country’s budget in the hands of the oversight board. House Speaker Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez, warned that not voting in favor of the measure would result in budget reductions in the legislative offices, since the resolution earmarked $7.5 million for the House payroll and Senate.
The Senate will also suffer budget cuts.