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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Supermarket chain opposes any PREPA debt plan that includes rate increase

Selectos Supermarkets Executive Director Mayreg Rodríguez Vázquez


Any Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) debt adjustment plan that is approved by the federal bankruptcy court should not include electricity rate increases because that would threaten food security on the island, Selectos Supermarkets officials said Wednesday.

Executive Director Mayreg Rodríguez Vázquez said there is a recognition on the part of U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain herself about the ability to pay bondholders because she has just established that the payment ceiling must be even lower than the one proposed by the Financial Oversight and Management Board on Saturday when it certified a new debt plan for PREPA.

“The consumer in Puerto Rico has had very high increases in the cost of living due to different internal and external factors,” said Ariel Torres, chairman of the Selectos board of directors. “As an aggravating factor, there have been several increases in the electricity bill in a very short period of time, with service that has not shown signs of improvement, but rather of deterioration. We are very concerned about what consumers are facing.”

“The reality we are observing is that consumers in Puerto Rico are making modifications to their diet and food purchases to the point that there have been occasions when customers have had to decide between shopping or buying less food in order to pay for electricity,” Torres added. “That’s unsustainable.”

The officials insisted that the debt adjustment plan that is approved should not start from ensuring payments to bondholders that imply more increases to the energy bill.

“The debt adjustment plan should not be sustainable only for PREPA and bondholders, it should also be sustainable for Puerto Rico, for the well-being of its people who have their food security at stake, and for economic development,” Rodríguez Vázquez said.

The island supermarket chain filed a motion a few weeks ago to oppose the previous plan presented by the oversight board. Currently, it is evaluating the legal course to follow now with the new plan certified by the board on Saturday, which implies rate increases.

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