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Puerto Rico’s gubernatorial candidates propose reforms to improve business climate

They vow to expedite permits, amend the Incentives Code and help boost corporate revenues.

Puerto Rico’s 2024 gubernatorial candidates have numerous economic development proposals they vow to implement if elected in the November general elections. From simplifying and speeding up the permits process to adopting a circular economy for solid waste, the four gubernatorial candidates’ platforms aim to enhance the ease of doing business in Puerto Rico and develop a more sustainable economy.

Juan Dalmau
Citizens’ Victory Movement and Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP) candidate Juan Dalmau’s platform proposes new public policies to increase corporate sector revenue and establish a uniform 15% tax rate on the net income of all foreign corporations. Additionally, it proposes the creation of the National Development Fund and the Business Development Company.

The platform also includes executing the Land Use Plan to protect agricultural and environmental land, reorganizing the Agriculture Department, encouraging ecotourism, and promoting the export of higher education and health services. Dalmau also advocates for adopting a circular economy for solid waste management.

“Adopting the Circular Economy for solid waste and managing it locally could generate 36,000 jobs,” according to his government platform. “Instead of burying or burning valuable materials, it is essential to strengthen the recycling and composting industry, following the vision of Circular Generation and Zero Waste strategies to develop a sustainable economy and prevent post-consumer waste from reaching incinerators or landfills.”

The candidate also proposed that the Department of Economic Development and Commerce prioritize promoting industries that process recyclable materials such as plastic, paper, cardboard, aluminum, glass and oils, and convert organic and plant material into compost.

Jenniffer González
New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate Jenniffer González’s platform highlights a comprehensive economic development proposal filled with ways to make the island’s permit processes more agile and trustworthy. 

Within her vision for a “Puerto Rico of progress,” González proposes implementing a permits system that is agile and reliable, making it easier to do business in Puerto Rico, and extending the validity of certifications to reduce the frequency of renewals. She also vows to implement a transparent system that measures effectiveness and productivity.

“We must aspire to have a better permits system, one that is not an obstacle, that provides certainty; Puerto Rico deserves more,” González said. “It is time to eliminate economic barriers for small businesses, to make it easier to obtain a use permit, to have a system that serves the people and that is not an obstacle to business on the island, a reliable and agile system that opens the doors to economic growth. With this proposal, the costs and risks of doing business in Puerto Rico would be reduced.”

Permits impact everyone, she noted, as they are required to operate every business, from a coffee shop to building or remodeling a house, to constructing roads, schools and factories. González vows to offer the simplification and streamlining of the permit system, proposing to standardize requirements, reinforce and train human resources, and optimize supervision with metrics and changes to the current public policy. 

“I propose that the permits be granted in an expedited fashion, but guaranteeing their review and approval by trained personnel committed to the vision of being an ally and not an obstacle to economic development,” González added.

 Jesús Manuel Ortiz
Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Jesús Manuel Ortiz vows to boost Puerto Rico’s economy by implementing a new economic and social development model that he believes is necessary for Puerto Rico “to grow again, taking advantage of the benefits offered by the Commonwealth.”

“A model where war is declared on the bureaucracy of our economic system,” Ortiz’s economic development platform reads. “Where, among other things, opening a business stops being a nightmare. It is necessary to insert the island in innovation, seek to eliminate the bureaucratic processes of a current inefficient government system and seek greater investment that stimulates economic development.”

Ortiz’s new model will require the collaboration of various sectors to ensure achieving the goal of investing more in the island’s economy, which is essential for “Puerto Rico’s renaissance.” 

“My vision is one in which the government becomes a facilitator and overseer and establishes the necessary structures for generating economic activity,” Ortiz added in his platform. “For this reason, promoting the development of local businesses and industries will be my priority.”

Ortiz also vows to create an expedited permit process if elected governor. According to his economic development platform, “there is no economic development policy that can be successful if we do not reform our permits system.” 

He proposes that expedited permits be provided at the time of application for all businesses established in places that are already “properly zoned and qualified.”

“As a requirement, they must have the required documentation at the establishment at all times, available for when they are inspected,” Ortiz’s economic development proposal adds. “This way, we prevent entrepreneurs from losing money on rent, deposits, insurance and other expenses without even having been able to start operations.” 

He also proposes to refocus the Incentives Code to help create the necessary incentives in Puerto Rico. 

“We will incentivize the housing, health and manufacturing sectors,” the platform adds. “In addition, we will ensure that the entities comply with the commitments for which the incentives were granted.”

Javier Jiménez
As of press time, Proyecto Dignidad’s gubernatorial candidate, Javier Jiménez, had not published his government platform. However, the political party’s press official, María Angela Pérez, shared some of Jiménez’s economic development proposals with News is my Business. Jiménez vows to create more job opportunities, better quality of life for citizens and well-paying jobs.

“The foundation to achieve this is to facilitate the development of our economy, where the government is not the main actor, but the person, the family and the community are the great actors of change in Puerto Rico,” Jiménez said.

Furthermore, Jiménez plans to foster “economic freedom” if elected governor in the November general elections through “a process of obtaining permits to carry out business activity fundamentally reduced to a computer process, where it is evident that the proposed project complies with the applicable rules, depending on the activity and place.” 

Jiménez also proposes “completely revising the legislation on occupational licenses to facilitate entrepreneurship and the creation of wealth, without putting the health and safety of our people at risk; implementing a review of the property registry and property title system to facilitate and streamline processes; facilitating foreign and local investment for the development of the manufacturing industry; and fostering the growth of a strengthened and expanded middle and business class, thus reducing poverty.”

Author Details
Author Details
Maria Miranda is an investigative reporter and editor with 20 years of experience in Puerto Rico’s English-language newspapers. In that capacity, she has worked on long-term projects and has covered breaking news under strict deadlines. She is proficient at mining data from public databases and interviewing people (both public figures and private sector individuals). She is also a translator, and has edited and translated an economy book on Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. She worked as an interpreter for FEMA during the recent recovery efforts of Hurricane María and earned her FEMA badge.

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