Puerto Rico with a Big “Menu” for Opportunity Zones

According to Manuel López-Zambrana, Puerto Rico has turned into a restaurant that should have a menu to please investors coming from the United States. He is a lawyer with the DLA Piper law firm and as a government adviser, he worked on the local legislation for the Opportunity Zones, a federal program that reduced to 20 percent the federal tax rate for funds used to invest in low income communities in Puerto Rico. The previous tax rate was 37.5 percent. “The most important thing to have in mind is that Puerto Rico, as an Opportunity Zone area, is competing with other states… We have to be well aware that if we want to bring that capital here, they will be looking at a menu of other options…, they can choose from a well-done filet mignon, a lobster, and we have to come up with something that is better,” said López-Zambrana during a forum at the University of Puerto Rico Law School.

Puerto Rico con amplio “menú” para las Zonas de Oportunidad

Para Manuel López Zambrana, Puerto Rico es como un restaurante que debe tener un menú que agrade a los inversionistas de Estados Unidos. Es abogado del bufete DLA Piper y como asesor del Gobierno trabajó en la legislación local de las Zonas de Oportunidad, un programa federal que ofrece una reducción de 37.5 por ciento a 20 por ciento en la tasa contributiva federal a fondos que inviertan en “comunidades de bajos ingresos”. “Lo más importante es que Puerto Rico como área de Opportunity Zone, está compitiendo con los demás estados… Tenemos que estar bien conscientes de que si queremos traer ese capital para acá, ellos van a estar mirando un menú de opciones, que tienen un filet mignon bien hecho, una langosta, y nosotros tenemos que venir con algo que sea mejor”, dijo López Zambrana durante un foro en la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. La firma DLA Piper es asesora contributiva y cabildea en el Congreso a nombre del Gobierno de Puerto Rico, explicó al Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI) Raúl Maldonado, Principal Oficial Financiero.

Puerto Rico Gov’t Lacks Plan to Integrate Communities into ‘Opportunity Zones’

Modesta Irizarry did not know that her town, Loíza, a municipality on the north coast of Puerto Rico, was designated as an “opportunity zone.” In the neighborhood of Salud, Mayagüez, on the island’s west side, Orlando Serrano had not heard that his community is also under the same category. So is almost 98% of Puerto Rico. Opportunity zones form part of President Donald Trump’s tax reform, which reduces from 37.5% to 20% the tax rate paid by funds that invest in these “low-income communities.” Proposed legislation at the local level that enables the federal program on the island also exempts investors from Puerto Rico and abroad from paying construction excise taxes, while reducing 50% of municipal license fees during a 15 year period. “We are trying right now to understand the opportunity zones,” said Roberto Thomas, a community organizer from Bahía de Jobos, in southern Puerto Rico, between the towns of Salinas and Guayama. Community leaders Modesta Irizarry, Orlando Serrano and Roberto Thomas told the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI) that their communities have not had access to information about opportunity zones.

El cinturón de seguridad de la Junta de Control Fiscal

En total la Junta ha gastado $75,454 en seguridad privada o federal para sus encuentros públicos desde que comenzó funciones, aunque la Policía de Puerto Rico no ha ofrecido la información sobre los costos del operativo policial local para cada reunión de la entidad. Entre julio de 2017 y abril de 2018, los agentes de la Policía de Puerto Rico asignados a la protección personal de Carrión reclamaron 4,540 horas, por las que se desembolsaron $125,397.

Emails Expose Federal Gov’t Influence Over Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Board

“Started engaging with the creditors yet?,” asked Ted McCann, then adviser to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), in a March 21, 2017, email sent to Carlos García, a member of Puerto Rico’s federally appointed Fiscal Control Board. Shortly after, García, a former president of the commonwealth’s Government Development Bank (GDB) and whose appointment to the board was pushed through Ryan’s office, replied:

“Yes, a lot of focus on GO/Cofina controversy. Each group stepping up their rhetoric. Board pressing on for meaningful progress. Challenge is the limited projected Primary surplus available in the first 10 years for debt service.