Government Development Bank

LA TRIFULCA VENIDERA

 

La Junta de Supervisión Fiscal nos ha dicho que va a certificar un plan fiscal para el ELA para el 30 de marzo del corriente. La Junta revisó el plan fiscal que el Gobierno le entregó el 24 de enero y solicitó cambios;  entre ellos más reforma laboral, reforma fiscal, y muchos otros. Específicamente, la Junta requirió que aquellas pensiones donde el pensionado recibe del gobierno y Seguro Social más de $1,000 se reduzca en 25% para una reducción que sume el 10% del Sistema. En cuanto a los empleados públicos, la Junta requiere “that the Proposed Plan include specific reference to services that can be reduced, eliminated, externalized, or taken over by other entities, as well as which types of employees are currently fulfilling those services. Further, the Proposed Plan must include a specific implementation plan and timeline for such agency rightsizing.”

Como era de esperarse, el plan fiscal que envió el Gobernador a la Junta carece de todos estos elementos por la obvia razón del costo político de cumplir con la encomienda. ¿Que hará la Junta? Con toda probabilidad anunciará el 30 de marzo que el plan fiscal del gobierno no cumple con lo que ha requerido y certificará su propio plan fiscal que incluirá lo antes mencionado. ¿Que hará el Gobierno de Rosselló? Argumentará que no hay que hacerlo, que hay los fondos, se rehusará a cumplir con una retórica que haría orgulloso a Rubén Berríos. La Junta tendrá que demandar a Rosselló como ya lo hizo y solo otro huracán salvará al Gobierno de tener que cumplir con lo indicado en el plan fiscal impuesto por la Junta.

Ya la Juez Swain ha indicado que carece de jurisdicción para revisar el plan fiscal aprobado por la Junta. Más aún, cuando Martin Bienestock comenzó su argumento oral para imponer a Noel Zamot como CEO de la AEE, la Juez Swain le preguntó si era su contención que esta última no estaba cumpliendo con el plan fiscal. Bienestock dijo que no y lo demás es historia. Si la Junta incluye reducción de jornada y de pensiones en el plan fiscal, no me cabe duda que la Juez Swain los va a hacer cumplir. Recordemos que en la quiebra de Detroit también se redujeron las pensiones en 10% y en Chrysler se redujeron mucho más.

Quiero mencionar un detalle del plan fiscal de la AEE y la AAA, ninguno de los cuales ha sido hecho público por el “Gobierno de la Transparencia”. He mencionado en las redes sociales que el Proyecto de ley para la venta de la AEE es sumamente escueto sobre los asuntos importantes de la venta y el Gobernador y algunos senadores indican su preferencia por alianzas público privadas. Por el otro lado, el Sr. Carrión ha sido muy claro al indicar que la AEE se debe vender, algo con lo que concuerdo. ¿La pregunta es si como probablemente ocurra con al plan fiscal del ELA, la Junta impone el suyo en la AEE y éste requiere la venta de la misma, ¿si esto hace el Proyecto superfluo? Esto definitivamente traerá malestar entre la Junta y el ELA, aumentando enormemente los gastos en el caso de la quiebra de PR. Como le indiqué a todos lo que clamaban porque se radicará el Título III y ahora se quejan del costo, be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

Finalmente, y hablando de gastos, quiero mencionar el pleito radicado por la Comisión de Energía contra la Junta para que no pueda certificarse plan fiscal de la AEE sin la aprobación del ente regulador. Resulta que los abogados de la Comisión de Energía, que incluye a uno de USA, Scott Hempling, los abogados de la Junta, de AFFAF y del UCC, TODOS son pagados por lo contribuyentes de PR. Para colmo de males, nada de lo que se esta litigando tendrá utilidad alguna para los contribuyentes, aún si gana la Comisión. Es todo un “pissing contest” sobre quien determinará la transformación de la AEE. Pérdida de tiempo y de recursos que demuestra que los que clamaban por la quiebra de PR, que nunca han visto un caso, mucho menos uno federal o un caso de quiebras, no sabían de lo que hablaban.

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Lex Claims Oral Argument April 4, 2017

On April 4, 2017, Judges Howard, Lynch and Barron heard oral arguments in the Lex Claims case, where Judge Besosa had decided the PROMESA stay did not apply to some of the claims, including the validity of COFINA and its alleged lien. 

As usual, right from the start of the Supervisory Board’s argument, the Judges started asking pointed questions. Judge Barron started asking technical questions that boiled down to whether the stay applied to a declaration that Governor Garcia Padilla’s executive order were invalid or preempted. Judge Howard asked if some or all of the causes of action arose after PROMESA was approved. The Board’s lawyers denied this but clearly the Judges are not convinced. Judge Lynch seemed concerned about other cases arising but was assured there are none.

 

Judge Howard asked about mediation and was assured it would start next week. When Senior COFINA lawyers started their argument, Judge Barron asked why the declaration of the Executive order was preempted. COFINA had to admit that such declaration is not an issue of control.

 

Ambac came next for appellants and likened the Lex complaint to a bank in state court attempting to determine where income should go for a bankruptcy debtor but this did not bar Judge Barron from asking the same question as to declaratory judgment. We can see a pattern there.

 

Once Lex Claims came to argue, it invoked section 303(3) of PROMESA claiming this was not precluded by the stay. Judge Lynch, who seems intent on preserving the stay, asked if there was explicit language that pointed that way. Lex conceded there was none but that the overall interpretation of PROMESA showed that. Lynch did not seem convinced. Lex continued arguing that they did not seek control, but Judge Barron challenged this view. Judge Lynch went to the offensive and asked if you filed your complaint, why should we relieve you of it in clear reference to the second amended complaint. Lex answered that it could amend the complaint.

 

From this we may surmise that as the Circuit Court’s stay order stated, the Judges will decide the stay will apply to all of the Lex Claims’ complaint, although Judge Barron could file a partly dissenting opinion or convince them it does not apply to the declaratory judgment sought by appellee. Since I assume the panel will be as swift as it was in the Peaje case, a decision could come down by next week or earlier. If it comes down by next Tuesday, April 11, there would only be 19 days left of the stay.

 

This brings us to another issue. Since it is clear negotiations will start later than April 10, the PROMESA stay which was enacted to afford PR an opportunity to attempt to restructure its debt consensually has been instead used by the Government and the Board to pick and choose winners among bondholders. This may have serious repercussions in the coming Title III as I will discuss in an upcoming posting.

Melba Acosta’s Resignation

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Today, Governor accepted the resignation of Melba Acosta as President of the Government Development Bank. The resignation will be effective at the end of July. Her letter of resignation mentions the approval of PROMESA as a reason, but it will not start functioning until October at the earliest. And to say that she has accomplished what she came to accomplish is to ignore the realities of our financial crisis. Why then, did she resign with only 5 months left before the end of this administration? Let’s see.

 

Melba Acosta has shown a personality that needs to exercise control over her environment and refuses to share information with the public or the Legislature. The coming of the Supervisory Board will definitely take away many of her functions but it will not start functioning until October at the earliest. So that cannot be the reason.

 

Today, ENDI published a note about an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission of bond issues by PREPA. The note states that the investigation deals with this administration and that it started in 014. We all know that investigations of this type take time and the U.S. Attorneys Office likes to indict persons in positions of power close to elections. An SEC investigation may bring indictments pursuant to section 17(a) of the Securities Act de 1933 and Rules 10b-5 y 15c-12 of the SEC. In addition to criminal charges, which have to be done through the DOJ, the SEC may file civil suits against PR or the persons involved in violations of said laws and regulations.

 

And it is not only the SEC that will be involved in an investigation. Senator Orrin Hatch asked the SEC to investigate the PR bond issues and also said the Senate Finance Committee would conduct its own investigation. Does Melba know something we don’t know? ¿Are these investigations the reason for her resignation? Time will tell.