Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Puerto Rico fiscal board visits 2 pilot program towns

By on October 9, 2019

Fiscal board Chairman José Carrión and Executive Director Natalie Jaresko, Nov. 17, 2017 (Juan J. Rodríguez / CB)

Discusses potential of municipalities while at Barranquitas and Aibonito

SAN JUAN – The chairman and the executive director of Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board visited Wednesday the towns of Barranquitas and Aibonito, two of the 10 municipalities that are part of a pilot program to help their economy grow.

Chairman José Carrión and Executive Director Natalie Jaresko met with municipal officials, business people, community leaders and others to listen and discuss the importance of improving budget practices and increasing municipal revenues. They also visited projects that promote economic development and intermunicipal cooperation. 

“Municipalities are the closest government entities to the people of Puerto Rico, and that is why it is so important for us to keep in close contact with the leaders here. We are all working on a common goal: to find ways to help municipalities improve fiscal responsibility and transparency, and to boost their economic activity,” Carrión said. 

Earlier this year, the board designated the island’s 78 municipalities as covered instrumentalities under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa), which established the board to help the island achieve fiscal responsibility and access to the capital markets. 

Aibonito and Barranquitas participate in what the board calls a “successful shared service partnership” with a group of municipalities, known as the ABC Consortium. It was created to integrate and improve the permitting process “and thus promote economic development, and has already proven to be very beneficial to business and residents in this area,” a board release reads.

The two towns also participate in a consortium known as the Regional Transit Service Program for the Central Mountain Region that also includes Orocovis and Comerío, and is in the planning and feasibility study stage through a grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the board added. 

“Those important programs show the way forward for Puerto Rico’s municipalities,” Jaresko said. “Shared services and intermunicipal cooperation, best budgetary practices, efficient tax collections, and economic development measures are the key to municipalities’ future fiscal self-sustainability. It’s a critical path toward improving the quality of life of the people they serve. We’re aware of the fiscal challenges that municipalities face and we’re focused on identifying ways to increase revenues and make tax collection more efficient.” 

The pilot program also includes the municipalities of Cidra, Comerío, Camuy, Isabela, Quebradillas, Orocovis, San Sebastián and Villalba.

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