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Home / World / Puerto Rico faces austerity measures under budget struggles | International

Puerto Rico faces austerity measures under budget struggles | International



SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – New austerity measures threaten storm-ravaged Puerto Rico after local lawmakers refused to change labor laws, as required by a federal control authority -Years Recession

The island's finances monitors said Friday that it will eliminate a $ 25 million scholarship fund for Puerto Rico's largest public university as well as a $ 50 million fund for cities and towns that are struggling after the hurricane. The board said it will also scrap an annual Christmas bonus for all government employees starting next fiscal year.

The measures were a blow to Gov. Ricardo Rossello, who had originally promised that Puerto Rico legislators would agree to voluntary employment, means that private employers would be able to dismiss employees at any time without giving any reason. A spokesman for Rossello did not return a message for comment.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rican President Thomas Rivera Schatz, speaking out against a change in labor laws, issued a strong statement on Friday defending his position and criticizing the board. "They threaten without any justification or economic basis with the elimination of Christmas benefits, holidays, job security of the private sector workers, scholarships for students, funds for infrastructure projects and economic development, among other important points," he said. "They threaten to be worse than Hurricane Maria!"

The board said the change in labor laws was tempting much-needed investors to the US territory.

Hurricane Damage caused more than an estimated $ 1

00 billion in damage when it hit Puerto Rico on September 20, and the island is still struggling to recover. More than 2,300 customers are shut down without power and tens of thousands of businesses closed after people fled to the mainland of the United States.

While Puerto Rico is expected to post short-term economic growth as a result of the federal reconstruction dollar assigned to the category Economist Jose Caraballo told The Associated Press that the island would again suffer from economic depression if no further development measures were implemented.

He warned that Puerto Rico would immediately feel the impact of the cutbacks would further depress the island's fragile economy as it seeks to restructure part of its debt burden of more than $ 70 billion.

"The contraction and social impact will be much greater than before," he said. "It's not fair, it's essentially aimed at the middle class and the lower class."

The disagreement between the board and certain legislators over changing labor laws comes as Puerto Rico is to approve a budget of $ 8.7 billion on Friday, including $ 69 million for the Christmas bonus

The board said it would be implement its own budget for Puerto Rico if legislators did not submit a proposal by Saturday that complies with a recently approved budget and austerity measures.

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