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Puerto Rico to showcase fiscal recovery at PRNOW: New York Forum 

A year after the effective date of Puerto Rico’s plan of adjustment to reduce the island’s debt obligations, the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF, in Spanish) has revealed plans for the upcoming PRNOW: New York Forum 2023. The event will take place in Wall Street’s Financial District in New York on May 18-19. 

The forum aims to offer the financial community up-to-date information on the island’s economic and fiscal recovery, with a focus on municipal debt institutional investors. Participants will include investment banks, law firms, credit rating agencies, and official as well as commercial representatives from the embassies and consulates of the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republic, Japan and Spain in the United States, all of which have businesses operating in Puerto Rico.

This is the second edition of the annual forum, which was first held last year as the PRNOW Summit at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan and attracted around 500 attendees. This year, the event will focus on the institutional investor community in New York and the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.

“As we returned to the market after exiting bankruptcy last year, we deemed necessary to implement a robust program of local, national and international scope to re-establish relations with that community and to keep capital market stakeholders abreast of the progress the government has made,” Secretary of State Omar Marrero, who is also AAFAF’s executive director, said in a roundtable with reporters. “This year, the attention centers around showing the financial progress attained, an update on the transformation of the energy sector, and achievements in the reconstruction process.”

Marrero said the government invested around $430,000 to organize the forum. 

“As part of the debt restructuring process, one of the requirements to put Puerto Rico back on the path to economic development is to regain access to the bond market,” Marrero said. “The best way to regain that access is by going to where those institutional investors are and talking to them face to face about the opportunities available in this new era of economic development and progress for the island.”

The event will feature the participation of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Popular Inc. CEO Ignacio Álvarez. Additionally, it will include a discussion between Marrero and the executive director of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, Robert Mujica, and a talk with Ron Klain, former chief of staff to President Joe Biden.

The forum will feature Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, as a keynote speaker, as well as Manuel Cidre, the secretary of the Economic Development and Commerce Department (DDEC, in Spanish); Francisco Parés, the Treasury secretary; Juan Carlos Blanco, the director of the Office of Management and Budget; and Fermín Fontanés, the executive director of the Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3A).

Other participants include Puerto Rico Housing Department’s secretary, William Rodríguez, and deputy secretary for disaster relief, Maretzie Díaz Sánchez; the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience’s (COR3) executive director, Manuel Laboy; and La Fortaleza deputy secretary for Energy Affairs, Francisco Berríos Portela. 

The federal government will be represented by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Response and Recovery Office’s associate administrator, Anne Bink, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) principal deputy assistant secretary, Marion Mollegen McFadden.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Puerto Rico Grid Modernization and Recovery Team director, Agustín Carbó, will also participate in an energy panel expected “to draw a lot of attention.” 

The panel will feature Puerto Rico Energy Bureau Commissioner Lillian Mateo Santos; New Fortress Managing Director and Genera PR CEO Brannen McElmurray; and B.J. Ducey, senior vice president at Quanta Services, a partner in the LUMA Energy consortium.

The panel on investment opportunities in Puerto Rico, which will be moderated by Economic Development Secretary Cidre, will feature Ella Woger, CEO of InvestPR; Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico; and Cameron McKenzie, president and chair of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce and honorary consul of Japan in Puerto Rico.

The public-private partnerships sector will be represented in a panel moderated by the P3A’s Fontanés, and will feature Aerostar Airport Holdings CEO Jorge Hernández, Metropistas CEO Julián Fernández, Global Ports Holding CFO Jan Fomferra, and the Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure’s executive director, Lisa Buglione.

Lastly, a capital markets panel will consist of Bryce Pickering from Barclays, Elliot Mutch from Bank of America Securities, Jared Fand from JP Morgan, Brian Olson from RBC Capital Markets, and Vic Kalaydjian from Jefferies.

Financial statements
When asked by News is my Business for an update on the state of Puerto Rico’s financial statements, Marrero said the government is currently behind on two statements.

“The 2021 [financial statement] is expected to be submitted by the Treasury secretary this quarter, before the fiscal year ends,” Marrero responded. “And 2022’s should be completed before the year ends. Consequently, the 2023 [statement] should be issued within the time frame, or the six months, that the law allows for their release.”

After the plan of adjustment, the government started providing updates on “where we were and the next steps,” he said, noting that the credit rating process would be multi-annual and not happen overnight, “particularly since we have not been able to issue all the financial statements.”

“Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés is doing a phenomenal job; we expect to be up to date by the end of this year, and then issuing the current financial statement next year; we are on that path. But being very honest, we have to continue those discussions. This will continue being a quarterly conversation with the credit agencies; during this event, they will be there, and we will be sitting down with them,” the official said.

Author Details
Author Details
Maria Miranda is an investigative reporter and editor with 20 years of experience in Puerto Rico’s English-language newspapers. In that capacity, she has worked on long-term projects and has covered breaking news under strict deadlines. She is proficient at mining data from public databases and interviewing people (both public figures and private sector individuals). She is also a translator, and has edited and translated an economy book on Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. She worked as an interpreter for FEMA during the recent recovery efforts of Hurricane María and earned her FEMA badge.

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