Hospital crisis, housing access are part of NPP agenda for new session
By The Star Staff
Tax reform, improving the permit system, addressing the situation of hospitals, access to housing, renewable energy platforms, and increasing the manufacturing base are part of the work agenda of the New Progressive Party (NPP) delegation and its minority leader, Rep. Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Nuñez, ahead of the start of the new regular legislative session scheduled to begin next Monday, Jan. 9.
“The NPP delegation has a very broad work agenda in the next session, which has as a priority to reduce the tax burden of individuals, as well as that of small and midsize merchants,” Méndez Nuñez said Monday in a written statement. “It’s been 12 years since a sweeping tax reform was last implemented. We will be evaluating how we lower contributions in a real, concrete way and with a verifiable source of repayment. The time has come for this reform.”
The NPP leader in the lower chamber stressed that with the fiscal actions taken by the administration and the successful implementation of Law 52-2022, which enables the transition of Law 154-2010 to a new tax platform for foreign corporations, with operations in force on the island, thus guaranteeing the entry into the treasury of about $1.7 billion annually, the door is open for providing people with tax relief.
The former House speaker went on to say that “[w]e believe that the time has come to make the granting of a permit in 30 days or less a reality.” “The technology is available and the resources are, too; this has to be a priority. Many Puerto Ricans who want to start their own business are discouraged by the reality that the permit takes a long time. That has to end. Although progress has been made, the priority is that the permit will not take more than a month.”
Also on the economic front, Méndez Nuñez pointed out that “we should take advantage of the ‘boom’ in tourism that we are experiencing to provide incentives to companies that establish new airlines, as well as those that add routes, at regional airports.”
This, the minority leader said, will have a multiplier effect on the creation, not only of new jobs, but also of new businesses.
The NPP delegation will also evaluate the expansion of the manufacturing base, taking as a starting point the incentives in Law 52-2022, particularly those in the Economic Incentives for the Development of Puerto Rico Act (Law 73-2008).
Meanwhile, Méndez Nuñez noted, “there is a situation with access to housing, particularly for the middle class.”
“High interest rates, coupled with the limitation of available housing units, have raised the costs of acquiring homes for our people,” he said. “We are going to study initiatives that mitigate these effects and facilitate the purchase of houses.”
The NPP leader also said the party delegation will address the crisis that has already brought about the bankruptcy of two hospitals, Los Maestros and San Jorge Children’s Hospital, this past year.
And on the issue of energy policy, Méndez Nuñez said “the historic increase in solar system installations — 4,000 systems are now installed per month compared to 50 in 2017 — presents challenges for everyone and includes recycling equipment such as panels and batteries.”
“The same applies to the electric vehicle market, which has doubled, from 2,000 in December 2021 to 4,000 in transit today,” he said. “This also brings about situations of sale and service, among others. Let’s work on it.”
Other areas to be evaluated are greater consumer protections, road and bridge infrastructure, improving services to the community with special needs, climate change, and solid waste management, among others.