Governor of Puerto Rico requests Congress to help build a more resilient Puerto Rico
(November 14, 2017 – Washington, DC) The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, participated in hearings at both chambers of the United States Congress where he called on Congress to approve an emergency supplemental legislation for the Island.
The legislation, as explained by the governor, should provide equal treatment for the American citizens residing in Puerto Rico compared to what any state in the United States would expect if they experienced a similar level of devastation after the passage of Hurricane Maria.
The governor also provided an extensive analysis and documentation of the damage caused after the atmospheric events, as well as the federal resources needed to build a more resilient Puerto Rico. The damages were estimated at $94.4 billion.
Rosselló said that his commitment is to transparency on the use of federal funds that are allocated and pointed out how he had the initiative to refer the agreement with a contractor (WhiteFish) to the Inspector General of the United States and the Comptroller of Puerto Rico when questions arose about the process that was carried out for its procurement.
Additionally, Puerto Rico is planning to create a Recovery Transparency Portal that will track the status of recovery and provide information to the public about how and where funds are being used. This will provide transparency related to the recovery effort, and will support a regimen and culture of accountability.
Hurricane Maria, as expressed by the governor, has no parallel in modern American history. Risk models have categorized it as a 250 to 1,000-year storm that has caused between $90 and $120 billion in damages.
During his presentations before Congress, the governor highlighted the progress that has been achieved so far on the Island, notwithstanding the widespread devastation and the difficult challenges. He also expressed that Puerto Rico has moved from the life sustainment phase to the recovery phase.
“Water restauration is now at 90%, telecommunications at 75%, and almost all supermarkets and gas stations are open. I called for aggressive milestones for energy generation and called out everyone involved to make sure we could do everything humanly possible to power Puerto Rico, and tomorrow, we will have met our second milestone of restoring 50% of the power grid,” emphasized governor Rosselló.
Besides handling the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the role of the current Government also includes the challenging task of correcting decades of misplaced priorities and insufficient leadership, after many years of economic, fiscal, and demographic challenges.
Part of the efforts of the Administration include the approval of a 10-year fiscal plan as well as its execution through a compliant budget, as required by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).
“We have implemented an aggressive array of policies for economic and social growth, including a gold standard P3 Law, labor reform, permits reform, government as a single employer, pensions reform, and are currently working on a government downsizing, procurement reform, and the transformation of the electric utility,” detailed the governor during the hearings.
In terms of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the governor expressed that the government is focused on developing a plan for the future of electric energy in Puerto Rico, even as it deals with the immediate goal of restoring energy.