Governor enacts reorganization of Puerto Rico Economic Development Department
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed House Bill 1403 Wednesday, which enables the first reorganization plan that regulates the consolidation of several agencies under the Economic Development and Commerce Department (DDEC by its Spanish initials).
“Today I enact the consolidation of 10 agencies under the new Department of Economic Development and Commerce. With the creation of the new DDEC, savings of more than $5 million are estimated in the first year and close to $80 million is expected to be saved in the first five years,” the governor said.
The organizational chart of the new DDEC integrates the Tax Exemption Office, the State Office of Energy Policy, the Regional Center Corp. and the Permits & Endorsements Management Office as programs or offices within DDEC.
Likewise, the Trade & Export Co. and the Tourism Co. are integrated into DDEC once the paperwork required for their merger is completed.
In the case of the Tourism Co., “and to address the claims of the sectors of the tourism industry,” reads a release by the governor’s office, La Fortaleza, “a Tourism Office is established with autonomy for the administration of the promotion of the industry, the room tax and the games of chance in the casinos.”
The Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. and the Roosevelt Roads Redevelopment Authority remain attached to the DDEC, with the Planning Board now also ascribed to the department.
The Culebra Conservation and Development Authority, La Fortaleza said, “is maintained in the Municipality of Culebra with the tools to generate its own revenue and become independent.”
The reorganization, the administration assures, “responds to government restructuring measures to achieve fiscal savings, as well as the governor’s commitment to creating a new, more agile and efficient government, by reducing the number of agencies” from 118 to 35.
The reorganizations will not affect current public employees, the administration said, “as the Single Employer Law allows for human resources to be transferred across agencies depending on the need of each department. This also reduces the need to hire new employees when there are already qualified candidates within the government that could be reassigned.”
“We have already managed to be effective with the Department of Public Safety to have a government that fits our fiscal reality without dismissing public employees, and eliminating bureaucracy and duplicity of public services to be more effective,” Rosselló said.
This reorganization is part of Act 122 of 2017, known as the New Government Law. The statute was approved “to efficiently channel the consolidations of agencies to have an efficient government and with less expenses,” according to the release.
The reorganization is the first of six passed by the Legislative Assembly and being considered by the governor: the consolidation in the new Public Service Board, the Department of Labor and Human Resources, the Board of Education, the Office of the Model Forest and the Department of Natural Resources, La Fortaleza explained.
In the release, DDEC Secretary Manuel Laboy Rivera, is quoted as saying: “This is an important step in the history of the of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce. We will continue working as a single team to benefit the economic growth and social development of our people.
“This law provides us with the best tools that will help us fulfill our commitment to simplify processes, provide investment certainty and be facilitators for local and foreign companies, making us more effective and agile in the process of creating more and better jobs for the Island.”
Tourism Executive Director Carla Campos added that “to provide continuity to the service and development of our sector, the Tourism Company will continue to operate as a public corporation until it is ready to become the Tourism Office under the DDEC. When this happens, the Office will have its own identity at the local, national and international levels and will have a functioning operation that will adequately address the formulation and implementation of policies for tourism development in a specialized manner within the governmental structure of the Department.”
The executive director of the Trade and Export Co., Ricardo Llerandi; the executive director of the State Office of Energy Policy, Francisco Rullán Caparrós; and the executive director of the Permit Management Office, Héctor Rodríguez Echevarría were “satisfied with the integration of the entities they direct into the new DDEC to be able to join efforts in the economic development of Puerto Rico,” the release reads.
La Fortaleza added that the executive director of the Office of Industrial Tax Exemption, Javier Bayón Torres; the executive director of the Authority for the Redevelopment of the Lands and Facilities of Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, Ian Carlo Serna; and the president of the Planning Board, María Gordillo Pérez, were also pleased.
“No transformation in the government’s past has been shaped with the haste and attention that this Administration has provided. In only 18 months, we have completed the legislative process in seven reorganizations, which impact more than 30 government agencies. In the six reorganizations approved by the Legislature, savings of over $30 million in the first year and close to $250 million in five years are estimated,” Rosselló says in the release.