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Pierluisi breaks down use for $4B ARPA allocation to Puerto Rico

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi offered a detailed breakdown of the use that will be given to some $4 billion allocated to the Puerto Rico under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

During a news conference — and flanked by Secretary of State Omar Marrero, Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés and Office of Management and Budget Executive Director Juan Carlos Blanco — Pierluisi confirmed that the central government received $2.47 billion that it will use for “economic development, quality of life, excellence in government, and future projects.”

In addition, the municipalities will also directly receive $1.6 billion.

“At this stage, we’ll be giving priority to Puerto Rico’s economic development, and the people’s quality of life,” Pierluisi said. “We’ve established a long-term strategy focused on economic and social recovery after the effects that the pandemic has left on our island.”

“This government’s commitment is that these funds are administered in compliance with established federal guidelines, with transparency and accountability,” said the governor, who had already announced the distribution of $520 million of these funds in June.

Meanwhile, Marrero stressed that this second round of allocations “establishes the government’s priorities and the needs that have been identified just over a year after the pandemic in Puerto Rico.”

“It will be invested in our infrastructure and in guaranteeing the provision of government services,” Marrero, who is also executive director of the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF, in Spanish).

“As we have done from the beginning, we’ll work hand-in-hand with the different sectors, agencies, municipalities and public corporations to collaborate in the corresponding processes, in accordance with the parameters established by the US Department of the Treasury,” he said.

Regarding economic development, $150 million will be used to incentivize returning to work, broken down as follows: $30 million for the construction sector; $50 million for the restaurant and bar industry; $50 million for the agricultural sector; and $20 million for the distribution chain and hotels.

Likewise, $120 million will be allocated to promote Puerto Rico as a tourist destination, attract conferences and events to the island, and revitalize tourist attractions and natural resources. Of that amount, $50 million will be used to promote Puerto Rico as a destination, $20 million to encourage domestic tourism, $10 million to promote entertainment and conventions, and another $10 million to market the island as an investment destination. Another $30 million will go to to revitalize tourist attractions, natural resources, and public beaches.

In this second funding distribution round, $250 million will be earmarked for future strategic initiatives focused on economic development, Pierluisi said. 

Under the concept of “quality of life,” $570 million will be split between payments to essential workers in the public and private sectors. Of this money, $250 million will go to provide “premium pay” disbursements to essential public and private sector workers who have been fundamental in the response to COVID-19.

This includes employees of the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, the Health Department, and the hospitals under its administration, as well as private hospitals and Diagnostic and Treatment Centers. Another $20 million is earmarked to strengthen genomic surveillance, $10 million to compensate those who get vaccinated against COVID-19 and $1.5 million to create a digital vaccination card.

Another $ 30 million will be destined for nonprofit organizations and $15 million to guarantee accessibility to Administration of Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services (ASSMCA, in Spanish) services and private institutions. Another $15 million will go to the elderly assistance centers and $15 million to adoption and family centers.

There is an emergency reserve of $213.5 million for future strategic initiatives, he said.

Of the $555 million assigned for “excellence in government,” $150 million are to support municipalities, $94 million to the University of Puerto Rico, and $50 million to repair and remodel government service centers. Another $50 million will be used to support cultural institutions and initiatives and another $50 million will be used to repair low-income family homes.

Meanwhile, $25 million will be used to fund public hospitals so they can maintain liquidity and $15 million will provide resources to facilitate citizens’ access to justice, including witness protection and improvements to the victims’ shelter. Both the Legislative and the Judiciary branches will receive $20 million each for their respective needs, which will be divided over two years. The emergency reserve in this line of excellence in government is $81 million.

Meanwhile, of the $600 million set aside for future projects, $276.8 million will be used to repair structural damage to educational institutions, $130 million will be used to invest in aqueduct and sewer projects in the Caño Martín Peña in San Juan, and $100 million for road maintenance.

Also, $27.8 million will be allocated to repair damage to water pumping stations under the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) to protect flood-prone communities in the event of storms. In addition, $10 million will be used for environmental conservation initiatives and $55.3 million will go to an emergency reserve that will be used for future strategic initiatives, the governor said.

These ARPA funds may be used only to support the public health response, replace lost government revenue, make necessary investments to improve access to clean water, address the negative economic impacts of COVID-19, make the premium payment to essential workers, and to develop broadband infrastructure.

The Coronavirus Relief Fund Distribution Supervision Committee, which Marrero chairs, will be responsible for supervising disbursements and, ensuring compliance in accordance with the standards of the strategic plan to use the funds and ARPA.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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