• The San Juan Daily Star

FEMA to relax requirements for release of reconstruction funds

Manuel Laboy Rivera, executive director of the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience

By John McPhaul

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced Wednesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has relaxed the requirements for making disbursements in reconstruction work, in response to requests from his administration in March, as part of strategies to continue accelerating recovery projects and efforts in Puerto Rico.

“This shows the trust and credibility that this government has gained. With this flexibility, Puerto Rico is treated the same as the rest of the states,” the governor said in a written statement. “I appreciate the work that the executive director of the Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3), Manuel Laboy, has done, as well as the efforts of the rest of the government team. We will continue working on other strategies to keep advancing in the reconstruction of our island.”

Through the previous agreement of April 2019, FEMA established the necessary steps for the disbursement process; now that decision rests with the island government.

Laboy said “this allows COR3 to streamline and make its disbursement processes more flexible as long as it continues to comply with the federal provisions that apply to us.”

“This is a great step and we thank the federal agencies for trusting this administration,” he said.

Meanwhile, the federal disaster recovery coordinator for Puerto Rico, José Baquero, stated that “we trust that this new agreement will result in the expedited execution of the over 6,600 permanent works on the island that are currently funded by FEMA.”

“We support the government of Puerto Rico in its very important task of ensuring that these funds are disbursed in a responsible manner and thus achieve a successful recovery for the island,” he added.

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