Although he has been in his new post as president of the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association for less than a week, Carlos Rodríguez already has a number of goals he wants to accomplish during his tenure.
First on the list is re-inserting the manufacturing sector in the government discussion.
“There was a time when we were the anchor of everything that is economic development in Puerto Rico,” said Rodríguez, in an interview during the “En Una Hora” radio program on 11Q 1140 AM, in which News is my Business participates. “But little by little during the different administrations, they lost sight of the sector, even though we still represent 50% of the Gross National Product.”
While he said it is acceptable that focus is placed on new areas of opportunity, such as tourism, “you can’t lose sight of the prize. Manufacturing continues to be the greatest contributor to Puerto Rico’s economy, and I believe there should be parallel plans. We must continue to promote manufacturing, while we promote tourism.”
He said part of that strategy calls for widespread educational initiatives to deliver the message to the people, who he said are the ones who ultimately vote for political candidates.
“We need to deliver the message to the people on the importance of the manufacturing sector on all jobs in Puerto Rico,” he said.
Another point he made during the interview is that to preserve existing manufacturing operations, the government must keep its word on the conditions for doing business.
“If you bring new operations by offering defined incentives packages, then those companies will make their plans based on that. What has happened historically is that the rules of the game have been changed along the way, and that creates an issue of credibility,” he said.
“I think we have to make sure that when we give our word, we honor it,” he said. “Maybe, for economic reasons you can say you have to change the rules of the game but then do it prospectively…for those coming in after the established commitments.”
Also on his to-do list is finding an executive vice president for the PRMA, a position that is currently vacant. The person in that post is responsible for giving continuity to the plans set forth by the president and the board of directors, as well as running the trade group’s day-to-day operations.
“I believe we have had two executive vice presidents in the last six years and for me, it’s essential to have one in place before September,” he said.
Rodríguez said he will also continue developing the PRMA’s relationship with lawmakers in Washington, to keep the conversation going on specific issues, including fiscal matters and incentives.