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Puerto Rico Shipping Association Presents 13 Proposals to Gubernatorial Candidates

Candidates dodge committing to specific proposals, present individual views on maritime industry


July 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

In its conversations with the three gubernatorial candidates, the Puerto Rico Shipping Association (PRSA) has had only modest success in eliciting their reactions to its 13 proposals concerning the maritime industry.

Over a three-month period, Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila, New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate Pedro Rossello Gonzalez, and Independence Party candidate Ruben Berrios Martinez individually met with the membership. The three candidates mostly described their political ideas, occasionally referring to the PRSA proposals. The PRSA will continue pressing them for stronger commitment to their proposals and their interest in adopting them.

"The [PRSA] had the opportunity to discuss each gubernatorial candidate’s political platform regarding maritime transportation," said PRSA President and Crowley Liner Services General Manager Roberto Lugo. "We submitted copies of the association proposals ahead of time so they would consider their inclusion in their party’s political platforms. [Some of] their views...were in accordance with our proposals and others weren’t."

According to the PRSA, Acevedo Vila’s presentation had the most favorable reception among its members since it agreed to five or six points out of the 13 proposals. The plan left the ports’ organization as is for the short-term and thus created less controversy among the PRSA members.

Rossello Gonzalez emphasized his political platform’s Isla-Ciudad (Island-City) concept, which would create eight ports of entry instead of a few ports serving the 78 individual municipalities. PRSA’s Lugo said even though Rossello Gonzalez didn’t commit to the organization’s proposals, the plan makes long-term sense as San Juan’s Port of Puerto Nuevo faces space restrictions.

Berrios Martinez’s presentation focused on Puerto Rico’s insertion in the global community and the need to do business worldwide.

"Personally, I think Rossello Gonzalez’s proposal to establish eight ports of entry–with each port managing a specific cargo–is excellent," said Lugo. "But I don’t like the idea of designating the port of San Juan exclusively for tourism. The Old San Juan, Puerta de Tierra, and Isla Grande-North piers should be used for tourism. But the rest of the piers in Isla Grande-South, Piers 15 and 16, and the port of Puerto Nuevo should handle cargo. In addition, as a Jones Act alliance member, I would like to see these carriers continue to operate from the San Juan area."

Puerto Rico Shipping Association Proposals to Gubernatorial Candidates

Evaluate land transportation tariffs to make them more effective.

Avoid frequent changes to the Ports Authority’s executive director and Maritime Bureau chief positions.

Include a PRSA and aviation sector member in the Ports Authority board of directors.

Make better use of San Juan’s Port of Puerto Nuevo, giving priority to the maritime industry.

Turn the Ports Authority’s board of consultants into a permanent commission.

Allow industry assessment when making capital investment in the ports.

Revise maritime industry excise taxes.

Repair and privatize Pier 15’s dry dock.

Work with federal and central government agencies before starting important projects that may impact the industry to ensure their compliance with applicable laws.

Dredge the piers to 38 feet.

Replace excise taxes with sales taxes.

Develop Puerta de Tierra’s piers from Pier 6 to the Navy Frontier for tourism activities and cruise-ship terminals.

Maintain and expand the incentive program for the cruise-ship industry.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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