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Cantero To Focus On Enhancing Investors’ Opportunities


January 18, 2001
Copyright © 2001 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The new Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DEDC) and Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (Pridco) Ramon Cantero Frau quickly fell into a tight schedule as he began his work week by meeting with half a dozen companies interested in developing projects with the agency’s assistance.

"We need to re-ignite Puerto Rico’s manufacturing industry. The past administration was afraid to use all the economic incentives and advantages available in this agency because it clashed with its ideological principles. I am not afraid and intend to develop new sources of revenue, improve productivity and create more jobs during this term," said Cantero during an interview with CARIBBEAN BUSINESS.

As did his predecessor, Cantero will also be heading both the DDEC and Pridco. "There are many benefits to being in charge of both positions, not the least of which is to eliminate duplicity of functions. It simply makes sense. In addition, we need to maintain unity in the efforts of promotion and property management."

According to Cantero, initially the department will focus on four areas. "First, manufacturing opportunities need to be provided for companies that in the past were not able to access the agency. I have already met with at least three of these companies and will continue opening up doors to other developers."

In second place, Cantero is working closely with appointed Tourism Company Executive Director Jorge Pesquera in the reorganization of the board of directors. The Convention Bureau is also a concern for the agency and they will be naming new members to the board on behalf of the government.

A third focus is the small and medium-sized commerce sector. "Carlos Gabriel Santiago, who comes from San Juan’s Corporation for Economic Development (COFECC, by its Spanish acronym), is a person with ample experience and a good background. He should bring a new dimension to that sector."

Regarding Infomercio, a project left behind by the former Commercial Development Administration, the program has Cantero’s support. Infomercio identifies and documents in a single database available through the Internet all business establishments in Puerto Rico.

"This kind of project is very important to us since one of our goals is to repopulate our cities’ urban centers. We need to find out what resources the towns already have and what they need. Then we can begin accommodating additional housing and parking facilities nearby, for example. But the towns must be repopulated."

According to Cantero, the properties managed by Promoexport (Puerto Rico’s export promotion agency) may also be used to enhance these urban centers. "This agency’s operational results were reasonable, from what we have been able to observe so far. But we are looking for ways to use its resources in different ways, such as in our repopulation efforts."

The fourth focal point relates to the service area and involves the reactivation of the international banking entity initiative. "This measure was approved in 1989 and later amended to attract and establish international banks that can receive 100% tax breaks. We intend to begin working on this matter immediately."

When asked about new tax incentives, Cantero said, "The promotion and use of incentives was neglected by the past administration. The only area where incentives were truly promoted was the Tourism Company. But in the manufacturing area, incentives were relegated to a third place.

"We are currently evaluating the kind of incentives that depend on the number of jobs created. But in this changing world and at the rapid rate that competitive realities change, there is no such thing as a static incentive tax law. Changes and additions will be made eventually," said Cantero.

One thing for sure is that Cantero is committed to accomplishing Gov. Sila Calderon’s programmatic plan.

"Our program addresses many important issues that must be attended in the coming years. As it regards to the DDEC and Pridco, we will work to attract Puerto Rican capital invested outside of the island, so that it will be used locally. Part of our agenda will also be fostering a favorable tax environment for our investors, including legislation to reduce capital gains taxes."

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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