SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Oversight and Management Board submitted Tuesday its fiscal year 2020 Annual Report to President Donald Trump, the US Congress, and the governor and legislature of Puerto Rico, as mandated by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act.
“Puerto Rico's road ahead is much more uncertain than even a couple of months ago and certainly a year ago , clouded by the global economic crisis. Though Puerto Rico is in a much better position to help itself than after Hurricane María, the Government failed to make meaningful efforts at improving economic growth through structural reforms or drive operational change that would deliver better government services to the people of Puerto Rico. The Government must improve the education system, deliver government services more efficiently, create opportunities for people and businesses to prosper, and set the right conditions to grow the economy, ”the board sai in a press release.
The report discusses “necessary reforms to meet the objectives of PROMESA, as well as the assistance provided by the Oversight Board. The report also encourages the Federal Government to support Puerto Rico, including the following areas outlined in detail on page 109 of the Annual Report, ”the board wrote.
- COVID-19: Extend federal COVID-19 related unemployment benefits and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses. Provide additional NAP funding to allow the Government of Puerto Rico to continue providing NAP benefits to the most vulnerable populations for another year while the Island recovers from the economic distress of COVID-19. Allow Puerto Rico to participate in the Pandemic-EBT program, so that Puerto Rico can better provide school meals.
- Jones Act: Grant a temporary Jones Act waiver for shipment of LNG within the US, allowing for the use of foreign-flag vessels while American Jones Act-qualified carriers are built.
- Medicaid: Legislate a long-term Medicaid program solution to mitigate the drastic reduction in federal funding for healthcare in Puerto Rico when the temporary extension expires and provide equitable treatment to residents of Puerto Rico in all Medicare programs.
- Earned Income Tax Credit: Explore ways to extend to Federal Earned Income Tax Credit to residents of Puerto Rico to promote formal labor force participation, especially among low-to moderate-income workers.
- Nutritional Assistance: Collaborate with the Government of Puerto Rico to institute a work / volunteer requirement for participants to receive the Nutritional Assistance Program (NAP), Puerto Rico’s largest welfare program. Transitioning Puerto Rico into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to ensure equitable treatment in federal food nutrition assistance.
- Eligibility for housing assistance: Begin using the Department Health and Human Services (HSS) Poverty Guidelines to set the income limits that determine who is eligible for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s housing assistance in Puerto Rico, as it does in most U.S. states.
- Child Tax Credit: Extend the full federal Child Tax Credit to residents of Puerto Rico to provide the same treatment that is currently provided to families across the U.S. states and the District of Columbia.