Friday, July 28, 2017

Contractors will submit up to 20 projects to Promesa revitalization coordinator

By on January 24, 2017

SAN JUAN – The private sector is slated to submit some 20 infrastructure projects in February to the revitalization coordinator created by Promesa, who will determine if they are “critical projects” before running them through an expedited approval process.

“The month of February is critical because that is when the financial oversight board will open the window for submissions of projects to the board,” engineer Francisco Díaz Massó, president of Bermúdez Longo Díaz-Massó, a contracting firm, said Tuesday. “At the Associated General Contractors [AGC], we are now identifying the 15 to 20 projects that will be submitted in two weeks,” he added.

Jeff Shoaf, chief Washington lobbyist for AGC America, discusses local chapter’s infrastructure proposal under Title 5 of Promesa

Jeff Shoaf, chief Washington lobbyist for AGC America, discusses the local chapter’s infrastructure proposal under Title 5 of Promesa.

While Díaz-Massó declined to talk about the specific projects because he wants to ascertain first whether the projects comply with other requirements, such as Puerto Rico’s Master Zoning Plan, he said that they involve highways, energy and water. Officials are working on identifying projects even though the heads of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) and the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa) have yet to be appointed, he said. Prasa’s executive director recently stepped down and his replacement could be nominated next week.

Last year, the AGC’s Puerto Rico chapter submitted a list of 600 projects it said the island needs to the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico, the Financial Oversight and Management Board and all of the gubernatorial candidates.

Díaz Massó said that while Promesa provides an expedited process for local projects, officials hope to be able to also take advantage of a 2011 executive order that created a federal expedited-project approval process.

According to Promesa, a sponsor submits a project to the revitalization coordinator, who requires information on the impact it would have in an emergency; the availability of immediate private capital or other funds, including loan guarantees, loans or grants to implement, operate or maintain the project; its cost and amount of Puerto Rico government funds, if any, necessary to complete and maintain it; the environmental and economic benefits; and the status of the project if it is existing or ongoing.

Energy projects must comply with other requirements that include helping Puerto Rico diversify its power sources.

After having identified critical projects, Revitalization Coordinator Aaron Bielenberg will then put them through an expedited approval process at the local agencies. The role is also responsible for responding to comments on the projects as part of a public comment period established in Promesa.

Díaz Massó said the AGC has already spoken with Bielenberg,  about some of the projects.

Look for Thursday’s print edition for more on this matter.

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