Washington - Federal Reconstruction Coordinator, Rear Admiral Peter Brown said yesterday that Puerto Ricans have now "a voice in the White House," and said he is committed to a "vibrant, resilient, and sustainable" recovery of the island.
"President (Donald) Trump and his administration are committed to this ambitious recovery and I'm excited to be a part of it," Brown said in a message to the Latino Coalition's legislative summit, where Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González also participated.
The main speaker at the event was President Trump, whose government has faced continued criticism for its slow and inefficient response to the disaster caused by Hurricane María in Puerto Rico in September 2017.
Brown, speaking in Spanish and English, said he has "a friend and partner in Governor Vázquez at La Fortaleza, the governor also has a friend and partner, and the people of Puerto Rico, a voice in the White House".
The so-called reconstruction "czar" spoke of his visit to San Juan last week, where in addition to meeting with Governor Vázquez Garced and her team, he met with officials working in local federal offices and with business sectors, following the 2017 hurricanes and the earthquakes that hit the island in January.
Governor Vázquez Garced, who also spoke in Spanish and English, told Hispanic entrepreneurs gathered at the conference that following recent natural disasters, Puerto Rico is open for business. She also said that the island´s reconstruction process is going to be an example not only about how to rebuild its infrastructure and economy, but for its relationship with Congress, federal agencies, and the White House.
Vázquez Garced added that the island has a highly skilled workforce. "The government of Puerto Rico is committed to giving the business sector all the necessary tools for the process of building their businesses," she said.
She mentioned Law 12-2020, which requires that 20 percent of purchases by Puerto Rico's government agencies be made from small and medium businesses. It also requires that 10 percent of purchases be from companies run only by women, who represent the majority of the population.
If an agency fails to comply with those requirements, then it will lose 1 percent of its budget, Vázquez Garced said.
Law 20, which grants incentives to companies that export services, and Law 22 - which provides tax exemptions for investors who establishing on the island - are examples of a "jurisdiction that is favorable for business," said Governor Vázquez Garced, who arrived in Washington Tuesday night and returns to San Juan today.
Commissioner González, on the other hand, said that at the event she stressed that "the private sector should be the engine of the economy, not the government".