Economic development scarce for P.R.’s micro and small entrepreneurs

“To avoid a headache,” Wilfredo Cubero hired a professional authorized by the Permit Management Office (PMO) to get the Use Permit for his business Piu Bello Gelato, located in Plaza del Sol mall in Bayamón. His biggest setback at the moment is that he still does not have the sanitary license required for all food businesses, because a Health Department inspector has yet to visit his place to do the mandatory inspection. Cubero submitted the application for the sanitary license on Oct. 23, 2018 and it was not until five months later that a Health Department inspector reached out to him for the inspection. At that time, the inspection could not be done because the area where the business is located in the shopping center was closed for remodeling.

HUD’s Inspector General is Auditing Part of the Disaster Funds for Puerto Rico

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General (HUD’s OIG) confirmed it is auditing the Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG–DR) Program funds granted to Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and María. HUD Spokesman Darryl Madden told the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, for its initials in Spanish) that he could not offer more details because the process has just begun. Puerto Rico Housing Department Secretary, Fernando Gil-Enseñat, told the CPI that the audit began March 6 and it will oversee regular CDBG funds, as well as CDBG-DR funds. Housing Department Spokeswoman Leticia Jover, said so far, “about $1 billion in CDBG-DR funds have been alloted and they are in the competitive process,” or requests for proposals (RFP). No disbursements of CDBG-DR funds have been made yet for the different programs established in the Action Plan, she said.

‘Low Numbers’ From Puerto Rico Gov’t Pushed Harvard Group to Continue Hurricane María Death Toll Study

Four days before the results of the “Mortality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria” study were published, Harvard University reported its findings to the government of Puerto Rico, but received no acknowledgment of receipt. It was not until The New York Times contacted the government to talk about the results that La Fortaleza requested a meeting with the study’s researchers, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health professor Rafael Irizarry Quintero told the the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI). “They only responded when the New York Times called them. They responded and asked to speak with us…” said the professor, who work on the study’s statistical analysis.