DDEC Says It Will Work with New budget
SAN JUAN – The Economic Development and Commerce Department (DDEC by its Spanish initials) announced Saturday a consolidated $78.9 million budget for fiscal 2017, and its secretary, Alberto Bacó Bagué, argued he would have no trouble operationally despite an $819,000 decrease compared with the current fiscal year.
The budget, presented before the House Treasury Committee, chaired by Rep. Rafael “Tatito” Hernández, includes operating expenses for the DDEC, as well as the film industry, youth and Puerto Rico workforce development programs.
Bacó Bagué said he seeks to strengthen the initiatives that have borne fruit in the DDEC’s 14 instrumentalities and carry out new projects that promote job creation and the development of a sustainable, diversified and globalized economy.
To that end, the secretary informed the House committee that the department has a plan to generate economic activity and jobs, adding that Puerto Rico has what it takes to promote the island at every possible forum, make pending projects viable, and that it has the tools needed to take advantage of emerging opportunities that are part of the agency’s achievements and goals.
As for the potential establishment of a federally appointed fiscal oversight board for Puerto Rico, Bacó Bagué said it “is a serious matter, but if worked with the right medicine, and things are done correctly and with a balanced budget, it will go faster.”
He added that the fiscal board still needs to be approved by the U.S. Senate, where it may be amended.
Hernández congratulated the secretary and his department in having been able “to address all the distortion created by the fiscal crisis and the efforts to try to mitigate the negative message that exists in Puerto Rico and abroad to maintain credibility in many of its programs, agreements and to bring new people.”