Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Puerto Rico sends $139 billion Economic and Disaster Recovery Plan to Congress

By on August 8, 2018

SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Wednesday that the Puerto Rico Central Recovery and Reconstruction Office (CRRO) has delivered the island’s Economic and Disaster Recovery Plan, which is estimated to require $139 billion in reconstruction projects, to the U.S. Congress.

The preliminary draft of the plan, dated July 9, totaled costs at $124.6 billion.

The final plan was submitted to comply with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which requires the government of Puerto Rico to have developed it by Aug. 8.

“Puerto Rico has a unique opportunity to innovate and rebuild in order to become that Puerto Rico we all want. The Transformation Plan submitted today is divided into 17 initiatives: some of capital investment, others are strategic initiatives,” the governor said in a release issued by his office, La Fortaleza. “All the initiatives have the purpose of making us stronger and resilient, while guaranteeing a long-term economic recovery.”

CRRO Executive Director Omar Marrero said in La Fortaleza’s release that “the Plan includes a number of recovery projects which represent an estimated $139 billion for the reconstruction of Puerto Rico. Projects such as improvements to airports, ports, roads, and the energy system; it is a comprehensive plan for a stronger Puerto Rico.”

The $139 billion needed is divided by sectors as follows in the plan: $33 billion for Housing; $30 billion for Water Systems; $26 billion for Energy Systems; $15 billion for Education; $8.4 billion for Transportation; $6.3 billion for Health; $6.3 billion for Economy; $5.8 billion for Public Buildings; $3.9 billion for Environment; $3.2 billion for Communications; $590 million for Planning; and $190 million for Municipalities.

The plan considers projects such as the Rafael Hernández International Airport in Aguadilla, which would include rehabilitating terminals, boarding and loading areas, hangars, and other structures, with an estimated $80 million investment.

The Guanabijo River Flood Control project in Mayagüez is also being considered, with an estimated investment of $60 million; as well as the reconstruction and expansion of PR-10, with an estimated investment of $510 million; and the remodeling of the Vieques Hospital, with an estimated investment of $30 million.

The plan also includes projects such as the restoration of natural coastal protection systems throughout the island; rehabilitation, reconstruction and new housing construction; improvements to solid-waste facilities; as well as reconstruction projects across the island.

La Fortaleza said that the CRRO–in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC), several federal and state agencies, and other entities–held meetings with stakeholders, municipalities, and state and federal agencies for six months to work on the plan.

Public comment hearings on the draft plan were held in Fajardo, Cataño, Ponce and Mayagüez.

“The draft Plan was published on the website www.p3.pr.gov, available for public comments on its versions in both English and Spanish. Once the period for receiving comments was completed, the recommendations of the public were evaluated and incorporated. That was the final Plan that was submitted today before Congress,” Marrero said.

The priorities listed in the plan for the next two years include:

  1. Restoration of Essential Systems: this includes the electrical system, water, communications and transportation.
  2. Improve Emergency Preparedness: prepare the infrastructure and capacity of government employees to protect citizens in future disasters.
  3. Optimize Tenure and Responsibility: of public facilities and buildings, by promoting their repair and reducing future risk.

Meanwhile, long-term objectives include “stopping emigration and fostering economic development; revitalizing urban centers; optimizing the scale of public services; rebuilding the infrastructure; as well as accurate and comprehensive information so that the Government can answer to citizens.”

In November, the government presented a document, entitled “Build Back Better,” to Congress. It included a preliminary description of the damage caused by hurricanes Irma and María, along with an initial evaluation of the recovery funds required to rebuild Puerto Rico “stronger, smarter, and more resilient.”

La Fortaleza said the CRRO “expanded the discussion and methodology of Build Back Better in the Plan to receive more funds in order to continue directing the recovery processes to build a new Puerto Rico.”

La Fortaleza said the Economic and Disaster Recovery Plan will be available Thursday at the Public-Private Partnerships Authority website: http://www.p3.pr.gov.

Draft Puerto Rico disaster recovery plan to be published in Spanish as well

Puerto Rico Central Recovery & Reconstruction Office publishes draft plan

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