Dalmau: ‘Our homeland needs to be built anew’
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special To The Star
This is the third in a series of interviews with candidates running in the 2020 general elections
Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) gubernatorial candidate Juan Dalmau told The Star on Wednesday that under his national project proposal, titled “A New Homeland,” as governor of Puerto Rico he and his team will build a public vision and execution based on a platform that defends dignity and human rights.
Dalmau said his gubernatorial proposal consists of focusing on subjects such as healthcare, education, essential public services and economic security to build a Puerto Rico citizens are proud of. The pro-independence senator said one of his main priorities is to devise a universal healthcare plan, given that around 300,000 citizens of the island don’t have health care.
“A New Homeland means that we, Puerto Ricans, are proud of being who we are and where we are from. However, we are aware that, at this moment in time, our homeland needs to be built anew,” Dalmau said. “In terms of healthcare, my government will devise a public corporation independent from the Department of Health and autonomous from the government to prevent the harmful party-political germ. It will have a board of directors composed of members who represent patient service providers and public health management professionals.”
The PIP gubernatorial candidate said the board would negotiate directly with service providers on payment methods and levels according to the services that are provided, which later translates to providers getting paid directly on behalf of the universal healthcare plan. He said the healthcare plan could be financed by state funds assigned by the Health Insurance Administration, funds from federal healthcare programs, and premiums.
“This would not ban private healthcare insurers; whoever wants to pay for it, they can,” Dalmau said. “Now, this would force these insurers to be more competitive and provide better services.”
Regarding education, Dalmau was brief, saying he wants to provide an “accessible and democratic education [system] on all academic levels” that it is not subject to privatization. However, when the Star asked how his government would be able to do so, Dalmau responded that as 45 percent of homes in Puerto Rico do not have access to the internet, he proposed that bandwidth internet should be essential; in order to comply, his government would be making the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) network, commonly known as PREPANet, accessible to the public.
“It is one of the most effective systems that we have as a country, but during this administration, Law 80 was signed, which is the Fair Competition in Information Telecommunications and Paid Television Act, and which opens bandwidth use for private enterprises for business purposes,” he said.
Meanwhile, as for PREPA and the Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewer Authority, Dalmau said his government would put a stop to negotiations to privatize both authorities because he wants to treat them as “fundamental services for human rights.”
“Access to electric power, potable water, and sanitary services, the United Nations (UN) points these out as human rights,” he said. “Hence production and distribution [of such services] must not be bound to privatization.”
When it comes to economic security, Dalmau said his government would implement a uniform tax liability on corporations of 10 percent, which would reduce local enterprises’ tax rates to 20 percent and push international corporations to pay for taxes, something they are currently exempt from by law.
“It’s not a confiscatory position in relation to these businesses; first, because it’s a competitive rate on an international scale, as foreign enterprises pay from 15 to 20 percent tax rates in other countries. Furthermore, these foreign corporations, especially American ones, receive a tax credit when they pay abroad,” Dalmau said. “It would make us more competitive in terms of economic development.”
The senator at-large said meanwhile that his gubernatorial platform includes providing health care and a dignified retirement system to the elderly community, establishing a merit system for official recruitment in the monitoring and management departments of government agencies, eliminating the political party criteria from public employment and cutting private service contracts.