Governor Ricardo Rosselló highlights the five objectives of the Agenda for Puerto Rico during his third Message on the Situation of the State
(April 24, 2019 - La Fortaleza, San Juan) Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló offered today his third Message on the Situation of the State, in which he highlighted the five transformation objectives that define the Agenda for Puerto Rico.
During his speech, the chief executive explained the need of an agenda that looks firmly into the future.
“The solution to the problems is facilitated as we seek to work together and achieve areas of consensus, where common sense and the main objective is Puerto Rico and not an individual interest. Although political-partisan dynamics make harder to achieve what should be a noble purpose, I am optimistic and believe in Puerto Ricans: In our ability to excel and understand,” said Rosselló.
As a first objective, the governor established a Puerto Rico Open for Business, which facilitates the creation of jobs to develop a new economy and fight bureaucracy.
Among the elements highlighted, he included the new Code of Incentives that is before the consideration of the Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly.
Rosselló explained that “this Code of Incentives will measure the return on investment and give certainty to the market. Additionally, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the agro-industry will benefit; commitment to farmers, cinema, culture, and tourism is reaffirmed; and opportunities for our young people are promoted. Programs for Third Age adults are also included in the new Code of Incentives.”
He also recalled that the economic activity index in Puerto Rico grew by 3 percent for the first time in 12 years, which, according to the chief executive, shows confidence in the recovery of the Island.
The second objective set forth by the governor was the aspiration to make Puerto Rico the Connector of the Americas, due to the geographical position of the Island, its human resources, its relationship with the United States; as well as the culture that Puerto Rico shares with Latin America, its tourism offer, and its export competitiveness.
Likewise, Rosselló indicated that the third objective seeks to position Puerto Rico as an Island of Innovation, where human resources are maximized to provide solutions that add value to the Island before the world.
He presented his proposal to transform the supply of energy as one of the key values for innovation, positioning the consumer as the center of a new model that provides renewable energy and distributed generation to improve the impact on the environment.
The chief executive recalled that “we have passed two laws that lead the transformation and establish public policy. Purely and simply, we are leaving behind the expensive model—which is harmful to the environment, unreliable, old, poorly maintained, and highly vulnerable—to build a new model of Energy 2.0, that is at the forefront and that serves our people. In energy, we will be the Island of Innovation.”
Governor Rosselló also warned that, to be an island of innovation, the People of Puerto Rico are key. Therefore, the fourth objective must be to turn the Island into the Center of the Human Cloud and reverse the migration that has been manifested during the last 70 years.
He stipulated that conditions will be created to stop the exodus, but also to invite those who have left Puerto Rico to return.
The last objective, and that which the chief executive considered the most important, is the Enabling State, defined by Governor Rosselló as “a government that establishes in its public policy the fundamental principle of the freedom of citizens and the offering of opportunities.”
Linked to this, the governor informed that he signed an executive order to create a multi-sector working group which will implement the right to free university access for those who qualify for their merits and credentials.
According to the executive order, a report must be submitted for its design and implementation within the next 120 days.
The chief executive explained that an enabling state directly fights inequality by facilitating mobility and social economic development.
Thus, he said, people will not be limited or discriminated by gender, economic status, sexual orientation, birth, race, or religion; therefore, a fairer and empowered society will be created, as well as a more productive economy with more jobs and alternatives.
The chief executive thanked Puerto Rico for “the privilege of serving them as governor,” while stating that he works tirelessly to fulfill his responsibility.
Rosselló said, however, that he has made mistakes that must be acknowledged and self-evaluated, among which he mentioned the extended length of time that relatives waited for the bodies of their loved ones in the Institute of Forensic Sciences.
Additionally, he indicated that the decrease to the budget assigned to Centro Médico hospital in the original draft was an error.
“In the consolidated budget there was an increase of $3 million. I have given instructions to work on this issue and that Centro Médico does not experience a budget decrease,” said Rosselló.
He also informed that last Monday he held a meeting with part of the 9/20 Commission to improve emergency protocols, and that they are already on track to have substantial improvements in the preparation and response of a forthcoming threat to nature.
On the other hand, Rosselló emphasized that it is important to acknowledge the transformations during his administration, directed to changes that had been talked about for decades, but not executed.
He referred to the energy transformation, the education reform which includes educational vouchers and school alliances; to the new tourism and investment promotion model in Puerto Rico; to the tax reform; and to a reform for the insured.
He also highlighted initiatives that are changing the way the government operates, such as Cesco Digital; the access to electronic ticket purchases via porferry.com; the speed in tax return reimbursements and Christmas bonus payments; and the creation of 20 integrated service centers, among other initiatives.
Additionally, Rosselló informed that, of the $652 million from the Abriendo Caminos program, 70 percent will be completed by the end of 2019. By 2020, 100 percent of the program will be reached.
The chief executive also said that security is a priority for the administration and that resources will continue to be allocated to fight crime, although he recalled that there is currently a marked decrease in crimes and murders compared to recent years.
“In addition to investing in wage increases for our police members, this year we have allocated resources to have more than 200 new patrols, 130 motorcycles, firearms, among other equipment. May criminals be aware that our police force will be equipped with the best technology for their defense and for the protection of the People of Puerto Rico,” added the governor.
He also said that work will continue to defend police retirement, to add social security, and to search for programs that finance the housing of active police officers.
On the other hand, Rosselló stressed that during the next presidential campaign in the United States he will carry the message of equal civil rights for the residents of Puerto Rico.
The chief executive stated that “together with our resident commissioner Jennifer González, we will defend the interests of Puerto Rico in Congress, in the Senate, and before the federal Executive—fundamentally because we are right—without ruling out judicial means to enforce our claims.”
Finally, Rosselló recalled that the colonial condition of Puerto Rico limits a better health and education system, besides limiting the resources to maintain a high-level infrastructure.
“The future of our children and our grandchildren; and the present of all the families of Puerto Rico is more important than political parties. Let us confront the federal Government with the claim of a single People that demands equality. Let us raise before the world the claim of dignity of a noble and courageous People, who seek the legitimate right to be treated on equal terms with the citizens of the 50 states,” concluded Governor Rosselló.