The Puerto Rico CPA Society submitted a set of suggestions to the Congressional Task Force in Washington to boost four key economic areas in Puerto Rico: Education, health, energy, and fiscal matters.
The professional group also offered ideas on how to capitalize on Puerto Rico’s strengths, and address a list of weaknesses to promote economic activity.
In the area of education, the CPAs proposed that the island’s universities “play an active and key role in the presentation and implementation activities for the economic development of Puerto Rico.”
The proposal calls for a coming-together of government, private enterprise and academia to draft an “articulated and aligned…plan, where business is promoted, business collaboration between local and international industry is encouraged, measurement and disclosure of findings on the government and economic management are supported, and the university takes a key role in these tasks.”
In healthcare, the group calls for ensuring continuity and parity of funding both for Medicare and Medicaid in Puerto Rico, while improving efficiencies on the island.
Specifically, the government’s healthcare structure needs to become more cost-effective and ensure compliance with the highest standards of quality care. The group pointed out a need to improve the fiscal condition of both the Puerto Rico Health Department and the Health Insurance Administration (known as ASES by its initials in Spanish) — which are both operating with deficits — to effectively manage the healthcare system.
“The healthcare delivery system needs to be restructured to provide for: Adequate regulatory oversight; standard of excellence in healthcare services; and, effective fiscal and operating administration,” the CPAs said in their proposal.
“We recognize the existence of multiple perspectives within the healthcare industry sector and the complexity of addressing a one-time-fits-all solution. In this respect, the Government should consider formally designating an Ad-Hoc Healthcare Restructuring Workgroup with the responsibility of analyzing the current model, evaluate the recommendations presented herein and other that may be presented from different industry stakeholders and develop the necessary ruling and/or legislation for immediate, mid-term or long term execution,” the CPAs proposed.
In the energy sector, the group noted the need for a long-term vision and a consumer-centric action plan. To achieve that, the needs to be a public policy in place to consolidate various laws that influence the sector, strengthen the role of the Puerto Rico Energy Commission, overhaul the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s governing board, and promote private investment in all components of the sector.
“The risk of not integrating a common vision and integrating all key stakeholders is to have vested interests continue to influence the direction of the sector,” the CPAs said.
The group also proposed diversifying the “energy basket” to include, among other things, renewable energy sources to control the risk of sudden energy rate increases.
As for fiscal matters, the CPAs said Puerto Rico’s problem “requires the implementation of immediate measures…to reduce the cost of operating the government, allow for the collection of all income that the government is entitled to and maximize the current limited resources.”
“Certainly, ill-conceived administrative practices have degenerated into the current fiscal situation. Still, at the root of the fiscal problem is the absence of economic growth,” the group said.
It suggested strengthening fiscal and administrative discipline by: “(1) maximizing the existing limited resources, (2) improving tax administration, (3) implementing rigorous budgetary controls, and (4) establishing transparency in the publication of information.”