Dear PRBA members,
It is our hope that both, you and your family are safe and implementing the necessary measures to protect your lives. During the last few weeks, we at the PRBA have been diligently working with our Board of Directors to ensure that our industry members can return to work, always having as a priority the health, safety and well-being of our team members.
Here are some of the initiatives we have been working on:
Guidelines for Occupational Safety and Protection:
In recent days, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced, announced the reopening of some sectors of the economy. The Construction Industry is among them, and we will begin operating on Monday, May 11.
The construction industry is governed by high security standards and due to its nature, it is among the industries with the lowest risk of infection. However, we are aware that we have to be much more careful and implement additional measures to protect our workforce.
With the main objective of establishing additional mitigation measures to protect all those who work for partner companies and the industry in general, we have developed the Guidelines for Occupational Safety and Protection. Governor Wanda Vázquez herself, referred to these guidelines as a role model for the construction industry.
In order to responsibly return to our workplaces, we have to incorporate all the security measures and protocols to avoid the infection with COVID-19 and protect the lives of our team members. These guidelines, are an additional tool that we have available to protect our people.
Special Advisory Commission on Economic Affairs (Economic Task Force)
We were invited by the Honorable Governor, Wanda Vázquez Garced to join the Economic Task Force to seek solutions aimed at reactivating our economy without putting our people’s live and health at risk. Many of the recommendations we have provided have been included in the Executive Orders issued by the Governor and have been sent to the Medical Task Force. We have also sent a communication to the Medical Task Force detailing our proposal for a staggered opening that does not jeopardize health.
Internal Task Force
The PRBA established an Internal Task Force mainly composed of former PRBA chairmen, which has also the support of a doctor who provides medical advice. The purpose of creating this task force is to evaluate the situation our industry is facing as a result of the pandemic and make recommendations to our Board of Directors and the government.
Proposals from Laboratorio Clínico Toledo
With the intention that our members can have all the possible and necessary tools and can be prepared to start operating as soon as the Governor authorizes it, we contacted several clinical laboratories in the Island so that they could submit their proposals to perform the test for COVID-19 at our workplaces, at a special cost to all our members.
A few days ago, we sent to our members the proposal submitted by the Toledo Clinical Laboratory, which turned out to be the most cost effective. We invite you to evaluate this proposal with no obligation.
Department of Housing
COVID-19 cannot deviate us from our priorities: moving forward with our plan of providing decent and safe housing and structures. We have continued our conversations with the Department of Housing to move forward with the CBDG-DR Action Plan and that the much-needed construction of thousands of homes that Puerto Rico needs can begin.
Private Sector Coalition
The PRBA is part of the Private Sector Coalition, an organization that brings together more than 30 industries and professional non-profit organizations. Through the Coalition, we have been evaluating the different situations and challenges that different components of the private sector have been facing to draw the attention of the executive and legislative branches and propose solutions. As a result of this, several communications have been issued and meetings with the Office of the Governor and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce have been held.
At the PRBA we have continued with our active role of advocating for our industry in various governmental areas, including the Executive Branch and the Legislative Assembly. An example of this is our constant participation in the legislation promoted by the leadership of the House of Representatives, through PC 2468, led by the Chairman of the House Finance Commission, Hon. Antonio ‘Tony’ Soto, to grant incentives and relief packages to companies in the midst of the COVID-19 scenario. At the same time, this legislation proposed the legal framework for the reopening of the different sectors of the economy. This piece of legislation is now being considered by the Senate following its approval by the House of Representatives.
At the same time, we continue the dialogue, monitoring and follow up on the legislative measures that propose a moratorium on the eviction processes for the rental housing market, as well as the amendments proposed in the Senate of Puerto Rico to the Notary Law, to make the law more flexible in the granting of public deeds and other notarial documents.
The PRBA continues to work on specific recommendations, which we will propose and defend, related to the transcendental changes that out current permit system and regulatory framework must-have in a way to temper the current legal framework to the new economic scenario we are facing as a result of this pandemic. This added to the leadership undertaken by the PRBA along with some of its leaders, in the Economic Task Force, and in other public and private forums, advocating for the reopening of the activities at the construction sector and its different components, in strict compliance with the protocols and occupational safety and health controls to protect our employees, customers and suppliers.
There is no doubt that this pandemic has forced us to reinvent ourselves and change the way we communicate with our members and the community. Education and orientation of or membership has always been a priority to the PRBA. In order to continue providing education and guidance, we have held four “webinars” on:
- Contributions- with the collaboration of Kevane Grant Thornton
- CDBG-DR funds with the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Housing, Luis Carlos Fernández, Esq., and the Deputy Secretary of the CDBG-DR Program, Eng. Dennis González.
- Economic and Security Projections with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
- Economic Impact of the COVID-19 with a team of experts led by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González
We appreciate the constant support you have given us in these webinars and will continue to search for relevant topics for our membership. We remain committed to protect and defend our industry, but most of all, protecting the lives of all our partners, their employees and their families.
Alfredo Martínez Álvarez, Jr.