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Senate Confirms Designations for Labor, DDEC, Fire Chief

By on February 11, 2017

SAN JUAN — Amid the Senate’s ordinary session Saturday, the Upper Chamber confirmed designations for the Labor & Human Resources Department, the Economic Development & Commerce Department, and the Firefighters Corps.

Supported by the New Progressive Party (NPP) delegation and Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Cirilo Tirado, Carlos Saavedra was confirmed as Labor secretary. Independent Sen. José Vargas Vidot, Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Minority Leader Juan Dalmau, and the rest of the PDP delegation, however, opposed the confirmation.

Labor & Human Resources Secretary Carlos Saavedra (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

Labor & Human Resources Secretary Carlos Saavedra (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

Despite emphasizing Saavedra’s commitment toward improving Puerto Rico’s current crises, Dalmau expressed concern over his support of the Labor Transformation & Flexibility Act, also known as the Labor Reform.

“The role of Labor secretary entails the most disinterested protection of workers, their well-being, and laboral conditions above any other consideration. The Labor secretary isn’t the secretary of the employer […] he/she is the person who will defend workers,” argued Dalmau, although he assured that his vote against the confirmation doesn’t place Saavedra’s capabilities into question.

For his part, engineer Manuel Laboy Rivera was confirmed as Economic Development & Commerce Department (DDEC) secretary, as well as executive director of  the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co., with one vote against, issued by Dalmau.

Among Laboy Rivera’s proposals to prompt job creations and improve the island’s competitiveness in the global-market figure Gov. Ricardo Rosselló‘s reforms, including the controversial Labor Reform, which has been received with much public scrutiny.

See also: Senate Approves Investigation on Puerto Rico Tourism Industry

Apart from approving the administration’s reforms, Laboy Rivera said he will implement several measures to boost the island’s strategic sectors. To his understanding, creating a destination marketing office (DMO) and establishing enterprise Puerto Rico, Inc. would represent fundamental tools to achieve sustainable economic development.

In the meantime, now-Fire Chief Alberto Cruz received votes in favor from the NPP delegation, PDP Sen. José Aponte Dalmau, Vargas Vidot, and Dalmau. On another hand, Tirado stated the rest of his delegation would oppose the confirmation, under the belief that his designation constitutes a conflict of interests.

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