Puerto Rico Governor Pero Pierluisi has released details of the distribution of American Rescue Plan Act, or ARP, funds received by Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico will receive $4.02 billion in funding. $2.47 billion will go to the Island’s central government and $1.55 billion to municipal governments.
The American Rescue Plan was enacted by Congress in March to provide U.S. resources to states, U.S. territories, and U.S. citizens in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In Puerto Rico, Phase one funding will invest $270 million in “quality of life” initiatives, Governor Pierluisi has explained, with a further $250 million following. The combined $570 million will include continued response to the coronavirus:
- $250 million for “premium pay” for essential workers
- $20 million for contact tracing
- $10 million for incentives for vaccination
- $1.5 million for the creation of a digital vaccination certificate
The legislative and judicial branches of the government will receive $20 million each. Other government projects:
- $276.8 million to repair damaged schools
- $130 million for sewer and water projects
- $100 million for road maintenance
- $27.8 million to repair damaged pumping stations to protect communities from flooding.
Funds for quality of life improvements will also be distributed to organizations on the Island:
- $30 million to nonprofits
- $15 million to family and adoption services
- $15 million to elderly care facilities
- $15 million to substance abuse and mental health care
- $50 million for cultural institutions
- $50 million to repair low-income housing
- $25 million for public hospitals
- $15 million for witness and victim protection
In addition to the quality of life improvements, the funds will cover these economic development initiatives:
- $120 million to promote Puerto Rico’s tourism industry, which has for many years provided a lower percentage of the Island’s revenue than is typical in the region, or in many States. Of this amount,
- $50 million will be used to promote Puerto Rico as a destination
- $20 million will boost local tourism
- $10 million will go toward developing events and conventions,
- $10 million will be spent on marketing the island as an investment destination
- $30 million will restore tourist attractions, natural resources, and public beaches
- $150 million will be spent on “return to work” bonuses, with this breakdown:
- $20 million for hotel and logistics
- $30 million for construction
- $50 million for hospitality
- $50 million for agriculture
Another $94 million is earmarked for the University of Puerto Rico.
What trusted panel will oversee the disbursement and use of these monies? Who will verify that the monies have been properly used for the projects listed. Somebody needs to ensure that these monies do not disappear down some rabbit hole never to be seen by the public again. The news media needs to closely follow and report the progress to the public.
The governor needs to declare how much of the allotted money is being forwarded to each municipality. The municipal governments need to acknowledge receipt of their portion of the monies AND report to their municipalities the use of these monies.