Pilot project launched to hasten reconstruction funds to towns
By John McPhaul
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, along with Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) Executive Director Manuel Laboy Rivera, announced on Monday the availability of the pilot program “Working Capital Advance” (WCA), which is part of the new revisions to Chapter 7 of the Guidelines for the Management of Federal Funds for Disaster Recovery.
“The continuous advances in the reconstruction and renovation of our infrastructure are essential for us to have the modern and resilient footing on which we are building future economic development for Puerto Rico,” the governor said at a press conference. “We have already witnessed various works under construction throughout Puerto Rico: road improvements, housing projects, renovation of plazas and urban centers, and lighting systems for public roads, as well as hundreds of aqueduct and sewer projects. As I have repeated on countless occasions, my commitment is that the funds for these important projects reach all corners of our island as quickly as possible.”
Pierluisi added that “my administration has been working fully and closely with our municipalities to ensure that the projects that our people want and need are carried out.”
“Seeking to address the challenges that they face to speed up these projects, today we announce another tool to assist them for these purposes … related to the processes of cash disbursement and management,” he said.
The WCA is an exclusive advance of money, available for the moment, for the municipalities. It is established in the face of the reality that many municipalities do not have cash in hand to start their projects, something that is essential for the reconstruction to continue advancing, the governor said. The municipalities that apply and qualify, according to the requirements to participate in the pilot program, will receive 25% of the money obligated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the project they select.
With those funds, towns can start with the permanent works that have been static due to lack of funds.
“Some 1,700 permanent municipal projects could be eligible for the WCA pilot program,” Laboy Rivera said. “They have an obligation from FEMA, corresponding to $1.5 billion. If 25% of that total is disbursed, we can anticipate that the municipalities would receive $375 million to begin their reconstruction work.”
Under the program, the disbursement process will be carried out in a term of seven to 10 business days. Once the municipalities receive the funds, they must submit a project progress status report within 90 days.