P.R. Chamber of Commerce travels to Washington, D.C., with full work agenda
A delegation from the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce (CofC) is in Washington, D.C., for the sixth installment of the Federal Affairs Chamber Education Series (FACES) organized by the chamber’s federal affairs committee, the trade group announced.
FACES is part of the CofC’s strategic plan to “insert the voice of Puerto Rico’s private sector onto the main stage of global governmental and private” sector discussions, conveying that the island boasts a robust and organized private sector that supports socioeconomic development.
“Our mission with FACES 6.0 is to continue educating at the congressional and executive levels on the importance of strengthening federal relations with the private sector in Puerto Rico. Our packed agenda includes a variety of topics that directly impact the quality of life of Puerto Ricans,” said CofC President Ramón Pérez-Blanco.
“Additionally, we will reinforce existing relationships and follow up on projects and initiatives that we have been working on in past meetings, remaining consistent with our commitment to be the voice of the private sector,” he said.
“Furthermore, as the leading economic engine of the island, we will present the strengths and opportunities that we offer in Puerto Rico for growth, while also warning about the challenges we must address to reduce migration or avoid falling into a recessionary cycle, which we all wish to avoid,” Pérez-Blanco explained.
The visit to the U.S. Congress will cover reconstruction and recovery, focusing on the two main issues affecting these processes: the labor shortage for funded projects, with companies having bids bids but lacking workers to complete them, and the effects of inflation, wars and supply chain disruptions that have inflated project costs by up to 150% compared to prices before inflation.
The delegation will urge both Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “to adjust allocated funds to reflect these new realities,” CofC officials said.
Delegation members span industries
The delegation represents various industries, including accountant Rafael Ortiz from the Puerto Rico Builders Association, who will initiate the informative process and support the passage of the recently filed bill by Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, Rep. Jenniffer González, on home purchase income limits, the CofC said.
Incentives and tax expert Kenneth Rivera is also part of the delegation aiming to discuss vital issues for the island, such as the potential effect of a new global tax already being imposed in several countries and its impact in terms of government revenue and the production of well-paid jobs in the manufacturing sector.
Among the other matters on the agenda is incentives to attract pharmaceutical production to the Unites States, particularly to Puerto Rico.
Wanda Pérez, president of the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Association, will address the potential elimination of internet access subsidies for Puerto Rico.
The president-elect of the CofC, Luis Pizarro-Otero, is also part of the delegation, and will participate in an informational session on the challenges posed by Medicare Advantage.
“This is a vital issue for the elderly, and the CofC has been an active protagonist in the fight to improve medical and hospital benefits for the island,” the group stated.
Jorge Rodríguez, president of the Institute of Economic Freedom (ILE), will engage with organizations such as the Heritage Foundation and the CATO Institute. He plans to share data on the economic development potential linked to transitioning from the Nutritional Assistance Program (NAP) benefits received on the island to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits available stateside.
A transition to SNAP could result in almost $2 billion more in food purchases, economically benefiting nearly a dozen states, the CofC said, highlighting that 85% of the food purchased by the island comes from the U.S.mainland and is shipped through Florida’s Port of Jacksonville, generating millions of dollars in economic activity and creating new jobs stateside.
Che Julio Aparicio, founder of FACES and vice president of the CofC, who also chairs the organization’s Federal Affairs Committee, is the coordinator of the delegation’s messaging, political and communications strategies “to ensure an integrated effort that results in better federal policies for Puerto Rico and makes it abundantly clear in D.C. that Puerto Rico has a vibrant private sector and is pro free market,” the trade group said.