Amendments to Puerto Rico Economic Development Dept.’s consolidation sent to Legislature
SAN JUAN – The secretary of Public Affairs & Public Policy, Ramón Rosario Cortés, informed that the executive branch submitted to the Legislative Assembly amendments to the bill that makes it possible to consolidate the Economic Development & Commerce Department (DDEC by its Spanish acronym) with a view toward strengthening tourism on the island.
The spokesman for La Fortaleza explained that “the changes submitted to the Legislative Assembly, together with the tourism industry, are to maintain the functions of gambling and the room tax in the new consolidated structure and not to transfer them to the Treasury Department; and keep the Tourism Office in the new consolidated structure, but with a secretary who will respond to the head of DDEC.”
In addition, he explained that “a pro bono advisory council will be created to help the head of the Tourism Office make the industry’s current programs more efficient.”
This consolidation integrates the structures of nine agencies or public corporations associated with economic development.
Rosario Cortés informed that these changes maintain the principles of DDEC’s Reorganization Plan and are compatible with its purpose to integrate several governmental entities to achieve efficiencies, and better services and results.
The measure integrates into DDEC’s structure the Industrial Tax Exemption Office, State Energy Public Policy Office, Government Regional Center Corp. and Permit Management Office.
Meanwhile, the Trade & Export Co., Tourism Co., P.R. Industrial Development Co. (Pridco), Roosevelt Roads Redevelopment Authority and Planning Board are also attached to its structure.
The proposed Consolidation Plan also orders the outsource of the Statistics Institute to provide it with independence. According to the Government, this Reorganization Plan will achieve savings of $7.8 million in the first year and nearly $100 million in savings during its first five years.
“As is the policy of the Rosselló Nevares administration, we are always willing to listen and improve government proposals. We have agreed to submit to the Legislative Assembly some clarifications and modifications to the bill,” Rosario Cortés said.
He also added that “this was discussed with the Hotel & Tourism Association and other sector stakeholders regarding the Tourism Co.’s integration with DDEC. The changes do not alter the purposes of DDEC’s Reorganization Plan, thus the amendments to the proposed bill will allow for the changes agreed to with the industry.”