Various leaders in the private sector, including presidents of economic and construction associations, offered statements after gathering with newly sworn-in Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi to discuss efforts to reestablish continuity in the economic recuperation of the island.
Pierluisi solicited a meeting with these leaders to hear their concerns regarding the economic standstill the island finds itself in, and how the past few weeks of tumultuous protests have negatively affected sales in different businesses and society sectors.
Among the issues discussed with the newly sworn-in Governor were the delay in funds for the Nutritional Assistance for Puerto Rico program (Nap), delayed funds for the Puerto Rico Department of Health, and the $8.2 million that were approved by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the recovery of the island after Hurricanes Irma and Maria that have yet to be disbursed and will most likely delay even further due to the current unstable political situation.
Jose Ledesma Fuentes, Director of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, expressed his concerns given the recent estimates in drop of sales and economic activity but also his belief that economic stability will be restored.
“We have expectations that this situation will be resolved as soon as possible and that previous initiatives to impulse the socioeconomic development of the island are reestablished immediately,” said the director.
For the construction sector, Eng. Alejandro Abrams, president of Puerto Rico Chapter of the AGC (Association of General Contractors) and Emilio Colon Zavala, President of the Puerto Rico Home Builders Association (PRBA) reiterated the importance of reestablishing normality in the sector after figures indicate that it has gone back to numbers pre-María, in 2016, a time where economic activity was low and unemployment in this sector was high.
“After Maria, employment in the construction sector had reached 50,000 jobs. Now, we have gone back down to the 30,000 jobs that we saw in the times before María,” said Abrams.
“The need to reconstruct our island is imperative. To provide access to adequate and affordable housing, especially to the more than 30,000 families who still live under blue tarps since Hurricane Maria, 22 months after the (disaster)” said Colon.
In a general consensus of the group, the leaders offered their absolute support of the approval of Pierluisi as Governor of Puerto Rico, decision which has now passed on to the Supreme Court for its evaluation after the Senate didn’t vote on the matter.
The group firmly believes Pierliusi has the credibility and reputation in Washington that is needed to guide the multiple reconstruction efforts and reestablish the economic development.