Washington - Members of the Private Sector Coalition of Puerto Rico sent a reminder to officials of the Executive branch and the Congress of the United States that they are still waiting for concrete measures to boost Puerto Rico's economic development.
"We have to move away from the mentality of crisis in order to have economic growth," said Francisco Montalvo, coordinator of the Coalition.
Between Wednesday and Thursday, Montalvo, the executive vice president of the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association, Francisco García; the president of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, David Rodríguez; and the president of the Puerto Rico Products Association, Francisco Cabrero had about 20 meetings in the White House, the Treasury and the Congress.
For the private sector, while the Oversight Board that controls public finances has placed the process of debt restructuring in the hands of Judge Laura Taylor Swain, the Congress hasn´t still addressed the measures that were recommended by the Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico
Some of the initiatives presented last December in a report to Congress, including Puerto Rico full access to tax credits for accrued income EITC and for dependent children (CTC), have turned into bills by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González.
During their meetings, they also called the attention to the fact that the fiscal gap that would cause the Puerto Rico health system to exhaust, by April 2018, the Medicaid funds allocated by Obamacare, which were about $ 1,200 million a year, almost half of the My Health program budget.
Although the information sheet of the budget propousal of the Department of Health refers to an allocation of $ 1,592 million for Puerto Rico in the federal fiscal year 2018, which begins in October, it is not specified how the gap of about $ 525 million between April and October of next year would be filled.
The encounters included Mackenzie Gross, who works for the White House National Economic Council. "We were able give him a good dose of what is happening", Garcia said.
The meetings at the Treasury were with Justin Muziniche and Daniel Kowalski, advisors to Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
With the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Republican Rob Bishop (Utah), they discussed in depth the Restructuring Support Agreement (RSA) of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. On Thursday, Bishop pressed the Oversight Board to accept the RSA, to which the Coalition opposes.
The issue was the core of the conversation with Andrew Vecera, an advisor to the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. "We told them that Puerto Rico is going to come out better under title III" of the PROMESA law, which allows debt restructuring through the Court, indicated Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, Cabrero said that they reminded Bishop that if economic development measures are not promoted "nobody is going to receive money".
In talks with Kimberley Brandt, legal counselor of the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Republican Orrin Hatch (Utah), the private industry representatives also highlighted on a possible fiscal reform and the fiscal abyss in Medicaid funds.
Senator Hatch, who has been related to the debate over the Island´s fiscal crisis, will be the decisive voice in the Senate on contributory issues and Medicaid.
Discussions on contributory reform and Medicaid included officials from the offices of Senators Richard Burr (Republican for North Carolina) and Sherrod Brown (Democrat for Ohio), who are members of the Finance Committee.
In the meantime, Gonzalez, who welcomed private industry representatives, is confident that the Republican leadership will address the cliff of the Medicaid funds either in the health budget or in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) that must be reauthorized in September.
In the case of the federal fiscal reform, the Private Sector Coalition claims that any change will not adversely affect the benefits of US manufacturers doing business in Puerto Rico, such as foreign or domestic companies, and that Puerto Rican companies.
At a time when the leadership of the House of Representatives keeps alive a proposal to establish a tax at the border, they seek to ensure that Puerto Rican companies that export their products to the United States are not affected
They also keep an eye on President Donald Trump's possible plan to invest $ 1 trillion in infrastructure projects. "We want to see", Rodríguez said, "how we get involved in those projects."
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