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Alliance for Development of Puerto Rico presents economic / social development plan
More than 169 strategies presented to redirect Puerto Ricos competitiveness approach
By MARIALBA MARTINEZ
April 14, 2005
The Alliance for the Development of Puerto Rico is a last ditch effort to shake the private sector from its complacency and make it part of the islands future economic development, said Manuel Cidre, chairman of the alliance.
The alliance is composed of a coalition of leaders from the private and public sectors, free of political partisanship, who work together to advance fundamental initiatives required to assure long-term life to Puerto Ricos economy, society, culture, and environment.
"The Alliance for the Development of Puerto Rico is a unique organization created at a historically auspicious time, considering the final results exacted from the previous Puerto Rico Vision 2025 study and we are now in the midst of a shared government," said Cidre. "Our goal is to avoid wasting more time and money in investigations about the problems facing the island and incorporate to good use the information from all of these studies. We must avoid what happened in the past with other studies that went nowhere and instead were copied by other foreign countries who now pose serious competition for the island, such as the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and even Ireland."
More than 1,000 citizens, over a one-year period, developed a long-term vision and plan for the alliance. The plan has 10 goals, headed by the need to stimulate more innovation and the creation of new businesses to increase local value added activities, new jobs, and local capital. Other goals include increasing private and public sector competitiveness and connectivity; providing the tools and incentives to promote economic opportunities; improving education, health, and security; supporting cultural and recreational events; improving the use of land and environmental regulations as well as water, energy, and waste disposal infrastructures; and increasing and improving the islands transportation systems.
"Puerto Rico cannot afford to waste time affecting pretentious postures about its economic future when the truth is this future is seriously compromised by other countries competitive plans to insert themselves in the new global order," said Cidre. "We must rescue the information that has been available for dozens of years about Puerto Ricos capabilities and what the island must do to compete in the global economy or face an economic and social upheaval as has never been seen before and from which it will be difficult, if at all possible, to recover."
Puerto Ricos economic development model
In 1950, Puerto Ricos per capita Gross Domestic Product was $328; today, this figure has increased to approximately $11,000. The islands illiteracy rate has decreased from 35% in the 1950s to todays 8.5%, and life expectancy has gone up considerably from 46 years to 76 years.
According to the information gathered by the alliance, however, Puerto Ricos economic development is shaped by competition from more countries, greater unemployment, poor investment in research and development, and business development, as well as inadequate infrastructure facilities for water and electricity. Other problems the island faces concern its socioeconomic and environmental sectors, with poor educational opportunities, high crime rates, and inappropriate environmental controls and waste management regulations.
The alliance will promote a new economic model based on entrepreneurship vs. dependency; a new social model based on empowerment and responsibility; and a new resources model based on sustainable development. The plan incorporates 169 strategic initiatives that will be developed over the next five years with the first 21 initiatives implemented in 2005. The initiatives are divided into short-, mid-, and long-term goals and 10 areas such as competitiveness / connectivity, income/opportunities, innovation / business, education, health, culture, transportation, land use / environment, public security, and basic services.
"Since mid-2004 we have been organized and operating from our own headquarters in Río Piedras," said Cidre. "All the investigation and studies compiled by Puerto Rico 2025 are there along with a data base of the groups and citizens interested in participating in the alliance. We are now looking for an executive director and a research assistant to continue developing and communicating details of the plan. In addition, we are ready to launch the first five strategies to the government in the areas of competitiveness, innovation, education, public security, and land use."
So far, more than 30 groups and individuals are members of the alliance. They include corporations such as AstraZeneca, Hewlett-Packard Corp., Kevane Soto Pasarell Grant Thornton, Pfizer Inc., San José Development, UBS Financial Services, and Wyeth; nonprofit organizations such as the Puerto Rico Bankers Association, Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association, Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, Puerto Rico Community Foundation, Home Builders Association, Contractors Association, and Pharmaceutical Industry Association; small businesses such as Los Cidrines, Electro-Biology Inc., Estudios Técnicos, and H. Calero Consulting Group; and individuals such as the School of Plastic Arts Marimar Benítez, Francisco Javier Blanco, Alberto Varela Fernández, and the University of Puerto Ricos Emma Fernández Repollet.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.