Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello plans to submit a fiscal plan Thursday tailored to his own specifications, rebuking demands from a federally appointed board that is overseeing the island’s financial troubles.
Rossello sent a seven-page letter of defiance to the board on Sunday, announcing his plan will not contain any of the layoffs, pension cuts, or labor reforms the board called for as a means to help aid the island’s ailing pension system.
“The government will not allow the takeover of these powers, and therefore cannot be compelled to implement many of the suggested revisions,” he said in the letter, emphasizing that the statute that establishes the board’s fiscal plan certifications also states that it cannot usurp the powers of Puerto Rico’s government.
Rossello’s relationship with the board has been a rocky one. Just last week, he rescinded his fiscal proposal after the board demanded a 10% pension reduction and the additional measures, calling the oversight board’s actions “illegal” as well as “unfair and abusive.”
“The government opposes these additional measures to reduce pensions because they impose a disproportionate burden on the workers and retirees of Puerto Rico,” Rossello said in the letter, adding that the government believes that the revisions would “significantly depress” economic growth for the island.
However, the board can choose to impose a unilateral fiscal turnaround if Rossello’s defiance continues.
Puerto Rico is in the midst of a debt crisis—the largest bankruptcy in US history. In addition to a $120 billion bond and pension deficit, Puerto Rico is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Maria. Currently 16% of the population is still without power.