Governor creates group to push US Congress to act on economic development
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Tuesday the creation of a group, Frente por Puerto Rico, that will represent several of the island’s sectors and request its inclusion in U.S. Congress’ allocation of healthcare funds as well as pushing for action on economic development.
The governor said the group’s purpose is to “set small fights aside,” especially those related to partisan politics, and to demand, “with one voice,” action on the island’s pressing issues before the U.S. government.
Rosselló denied it is intended to go against the Financial Oversight and Management Board, since the government is clashing with the federally established entity due to the latter’s approval of a public worker furlough.
“It is a front in favor of Puerto Rico […] These are initiatives that would go beyond the partisan discussion here, a broad discussion to achieve the structural reforms at the federal level that allow us to be more competitive,” the governor declared during a press conference in La Fortaleza, where he announced a two-day summit, “Invest Puerto Rico Forum,” which will be held Sept. 20-21 at the Puerto Rico Convention Center.
The group’s purpose, the governor said, is to lobby for increasing “the development of our economy,” especially with the island’s inclusion in federal tax reform; obtaining a “modern healthcare model” via access to more funding; and make way for recommendations made by Promesa’s Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico.
The task force issued a series of recommendations in late 2016 related to how Congress could help the island.
“The support from the different sectors in this initiative is critical,” said the governor, who in the coming weeks will be notifying the group’s potential participants.
He compared the new initiative to a multisectoral working group created via executive order at the beginning of the year to achieve Medicaid and Medicare funding parity, and which is credited with helping obtain $300 million in health funds for the island.
The governor ruled out for the time being a hike to foreign controlled corporations’ excise tax, which is at 4 percent per Act 154, a recommendation by a group of Puerto Rican Independence Party legislators who seek to generate more revenue to prevent the fiscal board-requested furlough.
Rosselló said the island will have to wait and see what happens with the U.S. tax reform in Congress and where Puerto Rico stands after the measure is passed.