Rosselló says PPPs won’t be made behind closed doors
SAN JUAN – After a legislative process that lasted only three days, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed his first law Wednesday, a series of amendments to the Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) Act.
The legislative measure filed Monday by La Fortaleza–approved by the Senate without public hearings that same night and by the lower chamber the next day–seeks to make the process of establishing public-private partnerships in Puerto Rico more “flexible.”
The governor said the legislation will allow “all those who want to come and invest in Puerto Rico” to do so, while giving local entrepreneurs more participation in this type of arrangement with the government. Likewise, the law is intended to inject liquidity into the island’s retirement systems, using part of the profits these transactions generate.
For Rosselló, a public-private alliance “is not a privatization,” but a process in which, for an agreed time, another sector provides a service that is “then returned to the people of Puerto Rico.”
“The people don’t necessarily care who provides the service; they want to receive good service,” the governor said, whether from the private sector “or any other sector” on the island, he added.
To questions about how to ensure the money goes to the pensino systems – the law doesn’t require this to occur – Rosselló said that is “our commitment; we are going to fulfill it.”
Regarding transparency in the selection of a proponent – a mechanism that has been amended to provide more room for the private sector to propose, without prior request, PPPs – the governor pointed to the creation of an “open conference,” where the different proposals that may arise will be discussed.
“This won’t be done behind closed doors, it will be done in a very public way. As opportunities are found, they will be carried out in a transparent bidding process to see who can provide the best service,” Rosselló said.
He added that independently of the manner in which projects arise, there would be a competitive process to ensure that the value of the asset or service in question is adequate in the best interest of the people of Puerto Rico.
For the governor, the amendments made to the PPP law, signed under former Gov. Luis Fortuño’s administration, open the government to new funds, to reduce spending, create jobs, provide better services and help small and midsize businesses collaborate in this type of project.
In terms of job creation, the governor said an estimate cannot yet be determined as it depends on “the scale of the project” and “how many services are transferred from the government for the creation of those jobs.”
Asked whether the measure was approved in the Legislature in haste, Rosselló defended the process and stressed that “immobility is not an option” for his administration and that he will act “quickly and responsibly” to address the island’s fiscal situation.
The governor added that he will hold talks with both the executive director of the Public Private Partnerships Authority, Omar Marrero and Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy to allow the government “to go to different places to try to establish [PPP] initiatives here in Puerto Rico.”