Gov. Ricardo Rosselló insisted today that he will not abide by the Financial Oversight and Management Board’s (FOMB) insistence on cutting pensions for thousands of Puerto Rico’s elderly.
“Given the abuse of the board on our people, I wish to call all sectors of our society, including political parties, to join the actions that I will be taking in defense of pensioners in Puerto Rico,” he said in a televised message. “I will go to all the necessary forums to demonstrate that this hit is not justified. I do not rule out any action in defense of our pensioners.”
The governor said that the cuts would affect more than 700,000 retirees on the island, many of whom are living in poverty. More than 70,000 retirees receive pensions of $1,000 or less every month, while 120,000 receive $2,000 or less monthly, he said. These figures do not include Social Security benefits.
“Who can expect these pensioners to live with less? Many already suffer making arrangements to pay for their medicines, food, home, electricity and water,” Rosselló added.
The pension cuts called for by the board are based on a formula, depending on the monthly pension and whether the individual receives Social Security benefits.
The back-and-forth battle between La Fortaleza and the FOMB on the government budget includes such issues as pension cuts and eliminating the Christmas bonus for workers. The board has said that the pension cuts are integral to the Puerto Rico government’s debt-adjustment plan. The governor, meanwhile, has consistently said that he opposes such austerity measures and that his administration has made the necessary budget cuts in its yearly budgets.
As a result, the governor said nearly $2.5 billion has been duly allocated “for the total payment of each pension.”
“Hitting pensioners is, in addition to being unfair, bad fiscal policy,” Rosselló said.
The island has a debt load of more than $70 billion and about $50 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.
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