Changes to Puerto Rico Economic Development Dept. reorganization plan announced
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, along with Puerto Rico House of Representatives Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez, announced the withdrawal of the Reorganization Plan of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish acronym) and the introduction of a new version of the measure.
“These new changes strengthen the bill so we have decided to withdraw the original Reorganization Plan and submit a modified one to receive input from the Legislative Assembly and [include] what my Administration discussed with the tourism sector,” the governor said in release issued by his office, La Fortaleza.
The changes include keeping the games of chance and room tax with the Tourism Office and not transferring them to the Treasury Department; having a separate management structure for the Tourism Office–with its own secretary–in the new consolidated structure; and creating a pro bono advisory council to help the head of the Tourism Office make the currently running industry programs more efficient.
“Consideration of these reorganization plans are a priority for the Legislative Assembly because they make it possible to fulfill the promise of giving [the people] a more efficient and less expensive government. We will continue communicating with the governor to make the necessary adjustments to these plans to ensure the best possible operation of the Government,” the House speaker added in the release.
La Fortaleza had announced this week agreements with several tourism industry sectors and the House speaker had indicated that a modified reorganization plan would be needed to adopt them.
The reorganization measure would put in effect the integration of nine agencies and public corporations associated with economic development within the DDEC.
The introduced bill integrates as part of DDEC’s structure the Industrial Tax Exemption Office, the State Energy Public Policy Office, the Government Regional Center Corp. and the Permit Management Office.
While the Trade and Export Co., the Tourism Co., the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (Pridco), the Roosevelt Roads Redevelopment Authority, and the Planning Board are attached to its structure.
In addition, the proposed consolidation plan orders the outsourcing of the Statistics Institute “to give it independence.”
According to the government, the reorganization plan will achieve savings of $7.8 million in the first year and nearly $100 million in the first five years.
“With the new changes, the House of Representatives will be in a position to pass the DDEC Reorganization Plan,” said in the release.