The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Puerto Rico’s government announced on Tuesday details of an economic recovery plan to get the U.S. territory out of a recession of nearly eight years, while trying to reduce a public debt of 73 billion dollars.

The plan includes improvements in schools, strengthening the tourism and agriculture and reducing the costs of electricity, among other things.

Ingrid Vila, head of the government office, said Puerto Rico seeks an economic growth of 2% for 2018. Advisers have said that this goal requires $12 billion of public and private investment.

“Puerto Rico is going through one of the most difficult times in its history,” Vila said, “The growth rate of our debt is greater than the growth rate of our economy.”

He mentioned that the government had already started to work on some goals and noted that the sugar industry had revived and local farmers cultivated rice for the first time in 30 years. About 2,200 hotel rooms were built last year, though critics have said they will wait to see if the occupancy rate increases.

The government is also working to reduce electricity costs on an island that relies on oil with 70% of the generation.

Education Secretary Rafael Román expressed that his department plans to enroll children in preschools at a younger age and opens 32 new schools at preschool level this year. He said that he seeks to increase the college graduation rate in the island, offering free computers and continuing a program that allows students to take tests for free.

Investors and holders of bonds in the United States and credit rating agencies, have been following very closely the Puerto Rican economy, amid government promises to improve its fiscal situation.

The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

San Jose, Costa Rica