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Caguas Mayor Says Island Has Fallen 20 Years Behind In Global Market; Recommends Transferring Promotional Efforts From Pridco To Private Sector
BY LIDA ESTELA RUAÑO
July 25, 2002
Caguas Mayor William Miranda Marin says Puerto Ricos priorities are upside down, the island has fallen behind at least two decades in the face of new competition from such countries as Singapore and Ireland, and the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (Pridco) has outlived its usefulness.
"Puerto Rico is at least two decades behind. We are at a standstill. Pridco has lost its usefulness in the islands economic development," Miranda Marin said. There are companies around the world, he noted, that have direct access to top CEOs. These companies should be entrusted with the task of attracting plants to Puerto Rico.
Miranda Marin cited construction giant Fluor Daniel as an example. Fluor Daniel, he said, has brought companies to Puerto Rico by making them aware of the islands incentives and by offering to build them a plant in a year.
Miranda Marin suggested Pridco should be manned by an economic czar with a small staff that would decide what types of industries to attract to Puerto Rico. The promotional efforts, however, should be entrusted to the private sector.
Miranda Marin said Puerto Rico must revise its economic model, placing special emphasis on education, to prepare professionals for high-tech jobs and for a research & development (R&D)-based industrial program.
"We must revise our economic model, but that will be fruitless if we do not revise our education program," said Miranda Marin, adding that children should be taught about technology from grade school.
A $1 billion fund should be set up for a new technology program, which could be created in a few years from cuts in government spending. The Legislature should be reduced to a part-time endeavor and the savings placed in this fund. The Government Development Bank also should offer part of its dividends to the special fund.
Singapore and Ireland copied many things from Puerto Ricos industrial program, he said, now we should copy from their highly successful model.
Miranda Marin said legislators must be mindful of the fact that the island has to compete in the global economy and therefore it cannot afford more laws that increase costs.
"We should be stressing R&D because it will tie companies to the island. If they have their scientists here, who are locals, and the infrastructure to develop these new products, it will be very difficult for them to leave Puerto Rico," Miranda Marin said. To that end, the government must offer attractive incentives and promote the development of a local entrepreneurial group capable of selling the new products at an international level. If Caguas-based Mova Pharmaceuticals Corp. can develop its own products, besides doing contract manufacturing, why, asked Miranda Marin, cant others?
Miranda Marin favors the clusters concept of grouping industrial activities close together. For example, he said, Cayey has a university and several large plants, including pharmaceuticals, so the idea is to build around those.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.