26 trade groups seek inclusion to solve fiscal problems
Representatives from 26 professional organizations from a cross-section of Puerto Rico’s economy, as well as thousands of businesses and workers, on Monday asked Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla and his administration for “transparency” and inclusion in the decision-making process to find solutions to the island’s precarious fiscal situation.
The claim came a day after García-Padilla expressed his intention to invite representatives from each of the organizations to a meeting this week to listen to their points of view regarding a way out of the current economic conundrum.
Their proposed solutions are contained in a letter sent to García-Padilla as well as the heads of the House and Senate, said Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association President and group spokeswoman Waleska Rivera.
Among other things, the group wants to discuss the details of the proposals agreed by the Executive and Legislative branches to balance the budget, to be able to gauge the impact on the island, businesses and on the people who will have to bear the increased cost of the products they consume.
“The proposed measures affect us all, consumers, small and medium local companies that receive no incentives, and in recent years have contributed to the growth of jobs and infrastructure,” she said. “Therefore, [the measures must take] into account a sector-by-sector analysis.”
A hasty implementation of any proposed measures gives neither the government nor the private sector enough time to prepare, especially when scant details are available, the group said.
“The proposed measures have to be harmonized with the intention of creating 50,000 jobs so that an even higher contraction among larger firms doesn’t mean layoffs,” Rivera said.
The organizations are asking the Legislature to keep the current 7 percent sales and use tax intact, and that the Treasury Department implement tighter collection measures. Reducing the tax to 6.5 percent, as García-Padilla has suggested, would prompt increased taxes in other areas, they said.
“It is the most effective mechanism to capture the underground economy,” the spokeswoman said.
The government has to clearly state and describe its cost control measures, austerity, oversight and break down the budget by agencies, as well as commit to making its proposals to increase collections transitory, during a period not exceeding a year.
Finally, the group asked for the approval of legislature creating a multisectoral committee with broad participation of the private sector, workers and nonprofits to develop an internal revenue code that promotes Puerto Rico’s economic and social development “and that is fair and equitable for all.”
The trade groups represented at Monday’s news conference were: the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, the Marketing, Industry and Food Distribution Chamber (MIDA by its initials in Spanish), the United Retailers Association, the Puerto Rico Products Association, the Radio Broadcasters Association, Puerto Rico Society of CPAs, the Hospitals Association, the General Contractors Association; the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association, the Puerto Rico Bankers Association, the Engineers and Land Surveyors Association, the Architects and Landscape Architects Association, the Gasoline Retailers Association, the Telecommunications Industry, the Real Estate Lessors Association, the Homebuilders Association, ACODESE, the Shipping Association, the Internet Society, the Society for Human Resource Management, the Manufacturers of the Southwest Association, the Public Relations Professionals Association, PR 2000, the Outdoor Advertising Association of Puerto Rico, and the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association (ASORE.)