SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico will lose some 10 percent of federal funds that had been allocated to the island up to September as a result of the $38-billion reduction in government spending agreed by the U.S. Congress.
Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner in Washington, Pedro Pierluisi, said Monday that it was still unknown exactly how much the island will fail to receive, adding that a figure between $100 million and $200 million has been mentioned.
“The situation in Puerto Rico is the same as in the rest of the states. The situation is that we have to tighten our belts,” he said.
Pierluisi said that the goal of the Puerto Rican government is to make sure that the reductions agreed by Congress affect as little as possible the funds assigned to the island each year.
“The federal government is cutting funds and they’re going to cut ours proportionately the same as they’re cutting those for other states,” Puerto Rico’s representative in Washington said.
Pierluisi stressed that these are funds assigned to the island by the federal government and are not generated by Puerto Ricans.
The official estimated at $7 billion the sum of federal funds apportioned to Puerto Rico each year under the 2009 American Recovery and Reconstruction Act.
The Puerto Rican government is concerned about the announcement of a $38-billion reduction in the federal budget up to next September because of the repercussions it could have on the island’s economy.
The Puerto Rican economy partly depends on funds it receives each year from Washington, particularly during the last five years when the country was plunged in a deep economic crisis.
Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Jose Perez Riera said last week, however, that a number of indicators confirm the improvement of economic activity in Puerto Rico, where unemployment stands at 16 percent. EFE