Manuel A. Laboy

Manuel A. Laboy, secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish acronym). >File Photo

In light of the historic events unfolding in Puerto Rico, the Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce, Manuel A. Laboy, held a meeting on July 27 with roughly thirty representatives from the industrial, health, tourism, technology, medical, and farm sectors to address their concerns and discuss the business continuity agenda.

“After concluding the first meeting there were some questions that were left on hold. As such, along with the Secretary of the Treasury, Francisco Parés Alicea; Rodrick Miller, executive director of Invest Puerto Rico; and a representative from Discover Puerto Rico, we were able to answer them and serve as a communication bridge to guarantee normal operations of economic activities within the situations that arise,” Laboy said in a press release.

He added, “our commitment is to ensure that Puerto Rico’s economic development continues and is strengthened by new measures and programs, such as the Incentives Code Act and the Permits Reform, among other efforts. Thus, we guarantee that the investment projects and job creations that are essential for the benefit of the people are not interrupted.”

For his part, Parés affirmed that, despite the current political conundrum encompassing the island, his department continues to work as per usual and that it is still receiving its regular collections, adding that the Treasury is soon to announce “historic collections.”

“Saying that Puerto Rico is paralyzed is incorrect. We remain focused on implementing the IVU (Sales & Use Tax) reduction in prepared foods next October 1 as part of the New Tax Model, signed by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, and the implementation of the third phase of the United Internal Revenue System,” Parés said.

Likewise, Miller affirmed that Invest Puerto Rico is focused on its goal to attract investment and jobs to the island. According to the official, the entity continues to hold conversations with potential investors.

Meanwhile, Brad Dean, president of Discover Puerto Rico, explained that this destination marketing organization (DMO) has been actively monitoring all international media coverage on the island’s socio-political sphere and sharing information with members of the local tourism industry so the latter can inform visitors.

Given the uncertainty shared among some tourism sectors, such as cruise lines, Dean stated that the DMO has been emphatic in stressing that Puerto Rico’s tourism remains open to travelers and that all sectors are operating normally. One of the non-profit’s strategies is to promote the island on mainstream t.v. channels and social media, adding testimonies from tourists who are happily vacationing on Puerto Rico.

Dean added that Discover Puerto Rico does not foresee any long-term negative impact on flights and hotel reservations. In an earlier interview with THE WEEKLY JOURNAL, he had affirmed that protests’ impact on the local tourism economy would be “limited.”

Lastly, Laboy stressed that it is important to keep the efforts in a unified way with these various sectors in order to reinforce Puerto Rico’s economic development.

“Investment in Puerto Rico cannot waver. The message is clear: we recognize that we are in a historic and delicate moment, but we have to guarantee the best conditions to do business, as well as giving continuity to Hydroponics, Innovative Pymes (small- and midsize businesses), Medical Tourism, Apprenticeship, and Opportunity Zones, among other core projects,” Laboy wrote.

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