A cross section of local contractors lobbied Monday at the Capitol for the approval of the bill that would give the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority access to the bond market saying, “a vote against the bill is a vote in favor of a water rate hike.”
Representatives from the Associated General Contractors, the Puerto Rico Engineers and Land Surveyors Association, the Puerto Rican Concrete Association, the Puerto Rico Association of Electrical Contractors, the Association of Mechanical Contractors, the Construction Materials Retailers Association and the Homebuilders Association staged a march in favor of House Bill 2786, penned by Rep. Rafael “Tatito” Hernández.
“House Bill 2786 is the only viable alternative to give PRASA the tools it needs to issue debt, reactivate its Capital Improvements Plan and prevent a double-digit rate hike,” said Neysa Varella, president of the AGC-Puerto Rico Chapter.
Among other things, the group said the bill offers the tools PRASA needs to restructure its finances, generates a recurring funding source for the Capital Improvements Plan, allows it to meet its $150 million in pending obligations to contractors and reactivate 55 projects, while saving 7,500 jobs lost.
Approving the measure, currently stuck in the House, would enable a $1 billion investment in three years in PRASA’s infrastructure, the group spokeswoman said.
A partial list of projects that are currently in suspense shows that most island municipalities have at least one improvement project pending.
The bill has also received the support of two of the candidates running for the governor’s seat in November, current Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, of the New Progressive Party, and David Bernier, of the opposing Popular Democratic Party.