Leading Experts Meet in San Juan to Discuss Economic Development Options for Puerto Rico
The Center for a New Economy (CNE) announced today that the CNE Growth Commission for Puerto Rico will meet during the first week of April, in San Juan, to discuss the agenda it has started to outline. The Commission has the objective of identifying strategies and public policies to help restore economic growth in Puerto Rico, and is composed of 17 renowned experts from academia, the private sector, and the public sector. They have accepted CNE’s invitation to re-think the economy of Puerto Rico and chart a long-term agenda. The bulk of the Commission is populated by Puerto Ricans who reside in the Island, as well as in the US.
Miguel A. Soto-Class, President and Founder of the CNE, said, “in the midst of an undergoing the fiscal adjustment process, the CNE Growth Commission for Puerto Rico is one of the most important initiatives that the Island has in order to redefine its economic future. Last year, as the discussion regarding the fiscal crisis and the debt problem gathered steam, we advocated for the creation of a permanent Federal entity that would focus on the economic recovery of Puerto Rico. Neither Congress nor the White House acted on the proposal. Given that the lack of economic growth is the most pressing issue for Puerto Rico, we at CNE decided to assume a leadership role and convened a prominent group to begin delineating a new long-term development strategy for Puerto Rico.” Soto-Class pointed out that the Commission members represent diverse perspectives and intellectual beliefs, as well as diverse areas of professional endeavor.
Soto-Class stressed that, “for too long, Puerto Rico has been satisfied with jumping from one tactic to another, without ever having a true, genuine economic plan. The discussion about sustainable approaches has always been overshadowed by the most immediate emergency. We have been satisfied with proposals that produce only temporary returns but do not add up to a comprehensive, enduring strategy. We need to break this vicious cycle and embark on a path towards economic stability and sustainability. In short, we have constantly reacted to the crisis of the moment without carefully thinking how to devise a comprehensive, inclusive, and long-term plan. The Commission will design and help implement an enduring industrial policy for the country―one that is based on our comparative advantages, that seeks to develop an ecosystem where any entrepreneur can efficiently push a business forward, that creates ample opportunities for wide sectors of the population, and that is sustained by local institutions, but is driven by a global outlook”.
Gustavo Bobonis, Chief Economist at CNE and General Coordinator of the Commission, revealed that the group’s agenda will define, among other things, diagnostic analyses and policy interventions that are necessary for Puerto Rico to develop a larger number of high value-added activities and a diversified portfolio of economic activities. He added, “Puerto Rico has tried to adapt to the challenges of the 21st century using tools that were successful decades ago but no longer offer satisfactory results. It is necessary to identify ways to successfully insert the Island in the knowledge economy and in an ever-competitive global context.”
According to Bobonis, the commissioners understand that in order to foster long-term economic growth, Puerto Rico must:
- Accelerate structural change by promoting its insertion in high value-added niches, investing in innovation, and adopting the use of new knowledge and technologies;
- Create the institutional framework to promote structural change; that is, revamping the institutions whose mission it is to promote this transformation.
- Devise public policies that help elevate social well being in an inclusive manner, so that the majority of its members can benefit from advances in economic development.
Bobonis pointed out that one of the most important elements in an economic development effort is the government’s capability to consistently implement the requisite policies and strategies. Thus, the Commission’s analyses and projects will attempt to augment the government’s development capacity by fostering the collaborations between actors in the public sector, academia, the private sector and Non-Governmental Organizations. The objective, according to Bobonis, is to promote learning cycles that lead to improved development institutions and processes.
The Commission will define a series of Working Groups that will focus on high impact areas of the economy, such as:
- Development of the private sector: public policies that improve sectorial productivity and promote the growth of high value-added activities.
- Macroeconomic fiscal policy: tax reforms to (1) improve Puerto Rico’s competitiveness and (2) reduce certain distortions that inhibit private sector productivity.
- Other horizontal reforms that increase the competitiveness of local capital and multinational businesses operating in the Island, for example: policies that stimulate competition, develop human capital and the work force, and improve the Island’s energy and information technology infrastructure.
Soto-Class stated that CNE recognizes the importance of engaging in a far-reaching dialogue about the process of economic recovery. To that effect, it will host a keynote lecture by Nobel laureate and Columbia University Professor, Joseph Stiglitz, titled From Crisis to Growth on Thursday April 6. Professor Stiglitz will discuss possible solutions to resolve the current crisis and the dangers of recurring to failed policies. The activity is free of charge thanks to generous grants offered by Fundación Carvajal, Fundación Miranda, and Espacios Abiertos. The event will be open to the general public, and commence at 9:00 AM in the Sala Sinfónica Pablo Casals at the Centro de Bellas Artes in Santurce.
The documents and publications generated by the CNE Growth Commission for Puerto Rico may be accessed at cnegrowth.org.