Ferrer proposes congressional economic commission for Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – Héctor Ferrer, the Popular Democratic Party’s candidate for resident commissioner, unveiled Monday a bill that would create the congressional Commission on the Economic Revitalization of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
The legislation, which he plans to introduce in Congress in January, will be in charge of following up on the economic initiatives proposed by the congressional Task Force on Economic Growth on Puerto Rico, whose tasks end in December.
The Task Force is in charge of issuing a report with recommendations for changes to federal laws and programs that serve as an impediment to Puerto Rico’s growth. Ferrer said the initiatives proposed by the Task Force will be handled by his proposed commission so the economic initiatives aren’t scattered among the different congressional committees.
“As resident commissioner, I will push for the creation of this permanent commission to ensure the economic stability of the island, identify parity in federal funds and all measures that aren’t focused on by the fiscal control board created by Promesa,” he said at a news conference at the PDP campaign committee.
It was after Congress created a Revitalization Commission in 1997 that Washington, D.C.’s economy began to grow despite having a fiscal board managing its finances since 1995 after it suffered a crisis similar to the one in Puerto Rico, which has a $69 billion debt. The Revitalization Commission was responsible for making the federal government assume responsibility for that city’s debt, Ferrer said.
The seven fiscal board members are mainly going to propose government cuts and austerity measures to help balance the budget. He said his duty as resident commissioner will be to monitor the board’s actions.
“To speak about creating a crisis or presenting an [statehood] admission request that has no probability of moving forward is not what we should be calling for at this historic juncture,” he said in reference to New Progressive Party gubernatorial candidate Ricardo Rosselló.
The Commission, comprised by lawmakers from both legislative chambers, will be required to submit reports on Puerto Rico to Congress every six months and make recommendations once a year on changes to federal laws and programs that have an impact on Puerto Rico.