• The Star Staff

PDP lawmaker meets with La Fortaleza officials to solve never-ending permits problems

By The Star Staff

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. Luis Raúl Torres Cruz, who chairs the Economic Development, Planning, Telecommunications, Public-Private Partnerships and Energy Committee in the island House of Representatives, said Monday that he has met with La Fortaleza officials to address permitting problems.

“I requested this meeting to discuss and establish an immediate action plan to address corrections and improvements to the Permits Law, the 2020 Joint Regulation and Single Business Portal, with the goal of expediting the permitting process,” Torres Cruz said in a statement.

Present at the meeting were Roberto Méndez Martínez, assistant secretary of priority government projects; Carlos Rivera Justiniano, assistant secretary on legislation and regulation; and Idelfonso Ortiz López, adviser to Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on priority projects and permits.

During the meeting, they discussed both the plans of the House of Representatives and those of the governor to address the state of stagnation, delay and slowness in the granting of permits to businesses. Officials also discussed alternatives for expediting the reconstruction projects financed with federal funds and ways to facilitate the granting of permits for the establishment and operation of midsize and small businesses.

Torres Cruz said he sought consensus and to be a facilitator throughout the process. He said he wants to focus on issues that the PDP-controlled Legislature and the New Progressive Party government can work on.

“We must concentrate on identifying those specific issues of convergence, and work on them urgently,” he said. “The country cannot wait any longer. For decades, various groups representing the business sectors have complained that the process of granting permits is slow and therefore onerous. There are businessmen who have had to wait more than a year for a permit to be able to operate their companies, and this is unacceptable.”

The legislator noted that a World Bank report that evaluates the process of establishing and maintaining a business put Puerto Rico in the lowest rank worldwide, among other elements, for obtaining construction permits.

“Since the House speaker appointed me chairman of this committee, I have held meetings with various organizations to address this and other claims that are stalling economic development in our country,” Torres Cruz said. “My mission is to be able to serve as a facilitator to find quick and effective solutions. Our constituents expect us to work together so that Puerto Rico is competitive on a global level, and therefore, we generate jobs and wealth.”

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