Groups Offer Suggestions to Boost Puerto Rico’s Economy
Two major trade groups have ideas to help the struggling Puerto Rican economy bounce back—one with a focus on infrastructure, and the other with a eye toward softening tough regulations.
Solving the challenges affecting Puerto Rico’s economy require new ways of thinking.
Fortunately, there are a couple of local trade groups that see a way forward.
The Puerto Rico chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC-PR) is among the groups recommending to a task force created under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), projects for the U.S. territory to take on.
PROMESA, signed into law earlier this year by President Barack Obama, allows Puerto Rico to restructure its $72 billion in debt in a way that would enable the territory to get its finances in order and rebuild its economy.
That restructuring allows the territory to take on some necessary infrastructure projects—which is where AGC-PR’s more than 200 suggestions come into play. The projects, which cover issues such as energy, water supply, housing, and transportation, would cost more than $3.7 billion to put into place.
That would represent an economic boon that could create more than 75,000 jobs for the island, directly and indirectly. The bidding procedure, according to El Vocero [Spanish-language], would favor local contractors and suppliers.
“Puerto Rico needs to ignite its construction sector and update its infrastructure if it wants to move forward. Without modern infrastructure the island will not be able to attract new investment or support economic and population growth,” AGC-PR President Neyssa Varela said, according to News is my Business.
AGC-PR isn’t the only group focused on fostering improvements in the territory. The Association of Banks of Puerto Rico (ABPR) also offered a set of recommendations [Spanish-language] to the task force, including ones for regulatory changes that would better allow the territory’s banking industry to serve nonprofit organizations and small businesses and broaden the qualifications for mortgages, so more people could purchase homes.
The cityscape of San Juan, Puerto Rico's heavily populated capitol. (iStock/Thinkstock)