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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Permits put on pause as high court upholds ruling rendering 2020 joint reg null & void

María R. Cintrón Flores, assistant secretary of the Office of Permit Management

By The Star Staff

The Puerto Rico Supreme Court has declared the Joint Permit Regulation of 2020 null and void, a setback for the island Planning Board and for the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish acronym) that has placed thousands of permits in limbo.

The DDEC assistant secretary of the Office of Permit Management (OGPe), María R. Cintrón Flores, said the office has implemented a temporary pause on permits.

The decision was issued unanimously on March 14 and now casts doubt on the granting of thousands of permits that have been approved on the island using the aforementioned regulation as a basis.

Cintrón Flores confirmed that on Wednesday the agency was notified of the ruling issued by the island Supreme Court in the case challenging the 2020 joint regulation. The judgment of the top court confirms the previous one issued by the Court of Appeals regarding the nullity of the regulation.

“The OGPe had raised before the courts that the determination of the Court of Appeals was issued without jurisdiction, since the agency was not notified or included in the lawsuit,” Cintrón Flores said. “The OGPe respectfully differs from the interpretation made by the court when it understood that the charter law of the OGPe itself delegated a leading and indispensable role in the process of adopting the regulations.”

Cintrón Flores, together with the agency’s legal team, is evaluating the range of consequences and immediate alternatives to the ruling in order to address, diligently and promptly, the procedural and operational aspects under its jurisdiction. Among the options, the OGPe could appeal for reconsideration before the Supreme Court itself.

“We recognize that this is a complex issue that cannot be taken lightly,” Cintrón Flores said. “Therefore, as an immediate precautionary and preventive measure, we have implemented a maintenance window in the Single Business Portal that temporarily pauses the processes of filing and adjudication of cases in the portal.”

“This responds to a desire to protect the certainty and transparency of the processes before the citizens and the public interest,” she added.

“Because the OGPe is the body responsible for facilitation and procedures related to permits, it is also up to us to look for the certainties of these processes and keep the public duly informed about any changes to them,” the official said. “The procedures facilitated by the OGPe are essential for the optimal sustainability of economic activity, as well as for its development. We will be deferential to interagency processes while we guarantee that we fulfill our duty to provide clarity and certainty to citizens and businesspeople.”

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