Newsletter – December 2023

Board Members Andrew G. Biggs & John E. Nixon, Chairman David A. Skeel Jr. & Executive Director Robert F. Mujica, Jr.

42nd Public Board Meeting

On December 12, the Oversight Board held its 42nd Public Board Meeting, where Executive Director Robert F. Mujica, Jr. gave an update on the Oversight Board’s recent work and accomplishments.
Mujica highlighted the approval of the $2.85 billion Highway and Transportation Authority (HTA) concession agreement that will provide critical investments to improve roads within the next two years. He also spoke about tax reform, the Act 80 incentivized retirement program, inventory tax, and the first Oversight Board quarterly financial report.
The Oversight Board and the Governor’s administration are now working on updating the Fiscal Plan and the projections based on updated, current data that will be the basis for the fiscal year 2025 budget.
Click here to view the 42nd Public Board meeting in its entirety.

First FOMB Quarterly Report

On December 27, the Oversight Board shared its first Quarterly Financial Report. The Oversight Board decided to provide regular quarterly updates to give the people of Puerto Rico, the Government, investors in Puerto Rico’s future, and others who are interested in Puerto Rico’s fiscal stability, more timely data about where Puerto Rico stands.
“These financial plan updates are common among local governments. I believe this will add clarity and transparency not only to the Oversight Board’s projections and decisions, but to the overall state of Puerto Rico’s finances,” Mujica said.
The Oversight Board’s first quarterly financial report provides a detailed analysis of Puerto Rico’s fiscal situation in the first quarter of the current fiscal year 2024 and potential risks to the financial projections in the Fiscal Plan for Puerto Rico.
Click the image below to read the report.

Focusing on the Economy

As the calendar year comes to an end, Oversight Board Executive Director Robert Mujica discussed Puerto Rico’s financial landscape and the Oversight Board’s work towards stabilizing the Government’s finances during an interview with El Nuevo Día where he stated: “We have stabilized the island’s finances. Now is the time to talk about the economy.”

Mujica also discussed the progress being made on the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) debt-restructuring process so that the island’s energy transformation continues to move forward.

Top Five Highlights of 2023

PREPA Plan of Adjustment

On August 25, 2023, the Oversight Board filed the third amended Plan of Adjustment to reduce more than $10 billion of total asserted claims by various creditors against the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) by almost 80%.
On August 21, 2023, the Oversight Board approved, with conditions, 11 amended renewable Power Purchase Operating Agreements so the process to begin the urgent transition to renewable energy can finally move forward. Building capacity to provide electricity from renewable sources is essential for Puerto Rico’s transformation towards more reliable, more affordable, and cleaner energy. 

Improvements at PRASA

The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) continued to reach important milestones in 2023, leading to improved water and wastewater services for residents and businesses alike. Working hand in hand with the Oversight Board, PRASA has focused on overcoming its fiscal challenges and improving its operational performance.
An on-site visit by Oversight Board staff witnessed how solar energy is making a difference at PRASA’s Los Filtros Guaynabo plant. Solar energy now supplies 79% of the energy needs at Los Filtros.
Oversight Board staff also toured construction of PRASA’s new Central Laboratory in Caguas, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017. The lab is of critical importance to ensure that Puerto Rico’s water supply complies with federal and state regulations.
Meanwhile, additional brigades have been hired to detect leaks in PRASA’s infrastructure so as to facilitate repairs. This initiative is important as estimates indicated that more than half of the water that ran through PRASA’s water system was lost because of damaged pipes, tanks, and service connections to customer meters.

Mujica’s first year as Executive Director of Oversight Board

Robert Mujica became the Oversight Board’s Executive Director on January 1, 2023, after a long and distinguished career in New York State Government spanning five governors and 10 legislative leaders.
Mujica’s mandate is to focus on long-term financial management, the energy sector, education, tax reform, and economic development. He is also focused on completing the final major piece of Puerto Rico’s debt restructuring: the Plan of Adjustment for PREPA.
Mujica, of Puerto Rican descent, has visited a number of municipalities in 2023, including Bayamon, Santa Isabel, Villalba and Camuy, where he met with mayors and residents, and toured businesses.
Now that Puerto Rico is emerging from bankruptcy, sustainable economic development is an important priority, as Puerto Rico’s future depends on true reform and lasting change.
“Puerto Rico’s future depends on true reform and lasting change to create a solid foundation of sustainable economic growth,” Mujica stated in this year’s annual report. “Achieving these permanent and sustainable reforms is my focus as Executive Director.”
Mujica is also focused on finding long-term solutions for the challenges the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) faces. A working group on UPR has been established with experts on higher education, economic development, and the private sector to develop strategic initiatives focused on academic excellence, economic development, and fiscal sustainability. 

Improving Government Procurement

Another important project led by the Government and the Oversight Board during 2023 was the Procurement Transformation Initiative. The pilot project starting this new initiative was launched with the Department of Public Safety (DPS), which oversees Police, Firefighters, Medical Emergency, Emergency and Disaster Management, Special Investigations, and 9-1-1 agencies. 

The Oversight Board and DPS jointly identified opportunities to simplify, streamline, and further optimize DPS’ procurement processes.

Time and Attendance

Ensuring that only government workers who are working get paid is an important component of fiscal responsibility. The Time & Attendance (T&A) initiative, led by the Oversight Board, links government employee attendance to the government payroll system to properly account for time worked, vacation and other absences, and employee departures.

In the past, the failure to connect attendance and payroll reflected serious fiscal mismanagement, costing the people of Puerto Rico millions of dollars.

This year the initiative reached an important milestone, as more than 50% of central government workers are now using the new system.