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The Other Side of the Story

Puerto Rico: The Other Side of the Story

An open letter by Alberto Bacó-Bague, Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce

Recent articles in the news have offered an incomplete picture of Puerto Rico’s economic situation. While there is no doubt that Puerto Rico faces real challenges, we are addressing them with a comprehensive economic development plan that is already showing tangible results. Our strategy incorporates every driver of economic growth: fiscal measures, spending restraint, industrial development, tourism, investment incentives, support for existing businesses and an aggressive outreach strategy to attract new businesses. We are taking action to protect our residents and investments in Puerto Rico.

The announcement of Puerto Rico's government decision to adjust its Fiscal Plan and renegotiate the public debt, marks a pivotal moment and points to a new direction for the coming years. Puerto Rico must define a new path to meet its present and future obligations. In spite of the prevailing uncertainty surrounding this situation, my team in the Economic Development agencies has invested time and energy over the last two years to restart key sectors of the economy that hold tremendous potential to generate growth. After a long decade of economic contraction in which many multinational corporations chose to downsize or close their operations, we persevered to create opportunities to attract new business partners that could take advantage of our unique offers.

Major multinationals are investing in Puerto Rico in a way they have never before, and we plan to ensure that continues. Our strengths, like our human capital, world-class infrastructure, competitive incentive package, the experience of doing business at a global scale and the opportunity to operate in a US jurisdiction, have been vital in forging strategic alliances with top companies like Lufthansa, Covidien, Paulson & Co, and Microsoft, among other prominent investors and corporations. Each made a rational and conscious decision to choose Puerto Rico as the place where they can reach their business objectives. These are not speculators, but world leading corporations in technology, real estate and finance. They did it because they are convinced that Puerto Rico represents a sound investment.

Restructuring the debt may sound a heavy challenge but is the right and only step to establish a new path to growth and economic development. Economic development will not occur without fiscal responsibility. We in the Economic Development team will continue implementing a plan that diversifies our economic base in order to transition to a knowledge-driven economy that takes advantage of global opportunities. New jobs, effective governance and social capital will all lead to a healthy economy. This is what we strive for. With negotiations, the signing of decrees and our promotional efforts ongoing simultaneously, we will continue our strategy to bring forth Puerto Rico's second great economic transformation. We have work to do, but Puerto Rico will come out of stronger.