Governor touts economic initiatives at Fiscal Summit
By The Star Staff
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Tuesday opened the Fiscal Summit, an event that brings together heads of government agencies and those in charge of their respective financial departments, in order to acquire tools to continue implementing strategies that result in savings, economic development, better services to citizens and government efficiency.
In his message, the governor listed the different initiatives that his administration has put into effect.
“It should be noted that this year 2022 has turned out to be one of the most important periods in our recent history and the starting point toward a new era of economic recovery, fiscal stability and social progress for all our people,” Pierluisi said in a written statement. “The end of bankruptcy, with the approval of the Debt Adjustment Plan [PAD by its Spanish acronym], and the new Fiscal Plan certified this year, have represented a change of course in the process of cleaning up government finances and the return to economic growth. Both for our Administration and for all our people, this has been an unprecedented achievement, whose positive effects will benefit every citizen on our island.”
The governor pointed out meanwhile that the restructuring of the central government’s debt has meant that, with the consensus of the creditors and the Financial Oversight and Management Board, the amount to be paid was reduced by 80 percent, in order to better use the resources of the people to promote economic development, create jobs and make better opportunities viable for all in Puerto Rico. He noted that fiscal responsibilities are now being fulfilled, while the pressing needs of the people are being met. In addition, the debt restructuring makes possible the return of Puerto Rico to the capital markets, eliminates uncertainty and restores investor confidence in the island, which will encourage investment, economic development and the creation of better job opportunities for all Puerto Ricans.
Pieluisi singled out, among fiscal health initiatives that have been implemented, the recent agreement reached by Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea with the federal government on the transition of the federal credit against the arbitration of the four percent tax to certain foreign companies, whose termination would have threatened the island’s budgetary stability.
As a result of all the achievements, government revenues have consistently exceeded estimates, the governor said, even above the surplus established in the Fiscal Plan.
Likewise, Pierluisi stressed that better financial management practices are being implemented and institutionalized to promote fiscal stability and budget balance.
The governor also listed the growth of economic activity indices, as well as the increase in manufacturing indices. Likewise, he highlighted the island’s economic growth, at four percent, compared to last fiscal year. In addition, it created 105,000 jobs in 20 months, making it the largest number of new jobs created by any government in less than two years. Currently, unemployment stands at 5.8 percent.
The labor participation rate, meanwhile, has increased by almost five points in 20 months, which supports efforts to increase productivity on the island, the governor noted. In the same way, important sectors of culture, the conservation of natural resources, the promotion of Puerto Rico as a tourist destination and tourism have been encouraged, he said, thanks to the strategic and responsible use of federal funds allocated to the island.
In addition, Pierluisi stressed that, in order to improve the quality of life of private sector employees, the minimum wage of workers was increased, marginal benefits were restored and the Labor Credit was established, which rewards people for entering the labor force. It should be noted, he said, that the Credit for Dependent Minors has also reduced poverty on the island by 2 percent and it is estimated that that number may increase to seven percent or more, which translates into a benefit for families in Puerto Rico.
“We have unprecedented support from the federal government, through appropriations already budgeted for investment in our infrastructure and the reconstruction and modernization of Puerto Rico,” the governor said. “In fact, we are accelerating the outstanding disbursement of more than $60 billion in federal funds allocated for Puerto Rico’s recovery from hurricanes, earthquakes and the pandemic. The impact of reconstruction will be felt in Puerto Rico for at least a decade, and on that we will continue to build sustainable socioeconomic development for future generations.”