Corruption has escalated all levels, from local and federal government officials to private sector contractors, as we have painfully seen during the past weeks. This is not only shameful; it is unacceptable and reprehensible. It is an obvious lack of honesty and integrity on both ends. It plays with people in need, pulls us back decades of hard work, and shatters our credibility hindering our economic and social growth potential. Corruption behaves like a wood moth, eating us up from the inside out. While the surface seems untouched, when you put pressure, it collapses, like in an old table.

The most unfortunate part of this plague is the long lasting effect it has on every aspect of our lives, especially on our social and economic development. Without economic stability, we will be stuck in debt and uncertainty for years to come. This is also unacceptable.

As we search for answers, as an active member of the private sector, there are two imperative demands that can bring economic change: transparency and honesty.

The lack of credibility derails investments, and has direct consequences on the economy related to purchases of local products, increasing costs, which in hindsight affects local company competitiveness and exports. The trickle down effect of awarding corrupt contracts to companies from abroad , while we have local talent and products that would do an excellent job for less, disrupts the most basic principles of economic development.

Local companies comply with the Stafford Act, which promotes economic development by using local workforce and products manufactured on the island.

Puerto Rican entrepreneurs do not have a problem with competition, as long as it takes place in an open and transparent process. I can assure, as a local entrepreneur, that all we are asking for is a fair turn at the bat. We welcome investment from abroad as part of our economy, yet we must have balance supporting local companies and capital with transparency and accountability in federal and local government contracts. Let’s make bid results and contracts public, accessible to all.

It is critical to understand that out of every dollar invested in local products, 70 cents stay in our economy. When we utilize imported products, in the end, we export local capital, instead of participating in our own economic and social development.

Corruption continues to be a crater in our path. How many contracts have been awarded to locals?

Total transparency in every single process is urgent and it is our responsibility to demand it in all aspects of governmental affairs. Those of us that have dedicated our lives to be part of the economic and social development of the island, struggling to retain and create jobs and opportunities, must step up to the times!

Government employees, private sector representatives at the local and federal levels must make a habit of transparency and honesty. This is the path for all to walk if we want a sustained economic and social growth.

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