Governor Stresses Importance of Federal Funds Amid Restructuring
SAN JUAN—Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla highlighted Tuesday the importance of federal incentive funds in light of restructuring the commonwealth’s $70-billion debt and achieving the economic growth required to pay off obligations.
García Padilla added he was pleased with most of the 75 recommendations put forth by the Congressional Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Economic Development, created by the Promesa Act, and whose report was submitted Tuesday by Puerto Rico resident commissioner Pedro Pierluisi.
“According to the projections of the fiscal plan and the revised projections published today (Tuesday) and approved by the Fiscal Oversight Board, if the inequalities in federal healthcare programs for Puerto Rico are not addressed, there will simply be not enough resources to pay any portion of the debt. Likewise, if the federal government does not provide fiscal incentives, we will continue to be trapped in a cycle of economic contraction and migration,” said the governor via a written statement.
The outgoing governor referred to the recent analysis that the fiscal board carried out on numbers that the local government provided, which placed the fiscal gap at $67.5 billion in the space of a decade if no corrections or debt restructuring were to take place, $9 billion over what the outgoing administration originally stated.
“We are evaluating the Congressional Task Force’s recommendations. I am grateful to its members for their work and efforts, including Pierluisi and Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), for fostering the island’s economic development and foster equal treatment for Puerto Ricans under federal health programs. If approved into law, the recommendations will help the island continue its path to recovery,” said the governor, whose mandate ends in ten days.
Apart from requesting Congress to immediately address the looming end of Medicaid funding to the island—which would create a gap in the local healthcare system—, the task force recommends including or expanding a handful of federal allocations benefitting Puerto Rico.
Moreover, they recommend a plebiscite on the commonwealth’s political status with the federal government’s go-ahead, provide better treatment under Medicare, boost the development of the former Roosevelt Roads base, assign funds to complete the dredging of the Martin Peña Canal and maintain the operations of the Arecibo Observatory, among others.