Gov’t sets aside $1 billion in ARPA funds for economic development
By The Star Staff
Puerto Rico has set aside over $1 billion of its American Rescue Plan Act funding allocation to finance projects that can boost economic development, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said recently.
The governor made the remarks during last Friday’s public meeting of the Financial Oversight and Management Board.
He talked about projects that he said can help the island recover from the negative impact of COVID-19 and boost economic growth. The meeting, which took place in New York City, was convened to discuss economic development plans.
The tourism sector, nonetheless, is registering record figures this year and indicators show that the island’s economy is stable and on the road to recovery, Pierluisi said. The governor also expects federal funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law and passage of the Build Back Better bill to help jumpstart the construction sector, which will give a push to the economy.
The economic challenges that Puerto Rico must address include improving its logistics, ensuring a reliable electrical infrastructure, improving its fiscal policy and tax incentives, and expediting government processes for awarding permits, island Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Cidre said at the meeting.
However, tourism is an area that is doing well.
“2021 will undoubtedly be the biggest year in tourism in Puerto Rico’s history,” said Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean.
The agency expects the commonwealth will generate up to $886 million in tourism tax revenue this year, up 16% from 2019. Lodging revenues this year have so far been 35% higher than the previous record in 2019.
Puerto Rico has done well in the area of private investments as it received $330 million in capital commitments from some 1,200 businesses in fiscal years 2021 and 2021 combined, Invest Puerto Rico CEO Rodrick Miller said.
The investments committed by those businesses will create 8,500 new jobs, he said.
Meanwhile, the island Treasury Department reported a net operating cash flow of zero dollars for the week that ended Dec. 10, compared to a negative $7 million forecast, a report filed by the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority shows.
The Treasury Single Account’s ending bank cash position for the week and the year-to-date that ended Dec. 10 was $12 billion. The amount was $548 million higher than the $11.47 billion forecast, the report noted.
Total inflows for the week that ended Dec. 10 were $313 million, which was $29 million lower than the $342 million projection, the report says.
Outflows were $313 million, some $36 million less than the $349 million estimate, it showed.
Federal fund receipts were $49 million lower than the estimate, or $144 million, compared to the $193 million projection, the document indicated.