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We are joined this morning by a very special guest Jose Perez and Perez re -- who -- Puerto -- secretary of commerce.
Here to talk with us today and thank you for being here about the economy -- Puerto Rico and I know that Americans know that there is this discussion of statehood.
It's going on there's vote coming up and some people have very much Puerto Rico on their minds but there's another reason you want us to know about.
Puerto Rico this morning it has to do with the economy.
Would take a look at what Puerto Rico.
Has been through and what we've been in -- do.
Over the past six years basically where it -- go entered into recession back in march of 2006 and when governor for two when -- -- to the beginning of 2009 he took the difficult measures and have to be implemented and basically we've turned the economy around we're now we're seeing.
Growth for the first month.
Since we entered into that recession back in 2006 we started seeing growth this past December we're seeing job creation we saw 35.
Thousand jobs created in the first half of this fiscal year that's the most that we -- in the first half of the fiscal year in more than a decade so basically.
The economy -- request turn around and we're now we're -- for growth.
As secretary as we hear about.
The accomplishment -- that there're couple things that go through my mind one what were the factors that led up to the specific recession in Puerto Rico and maybe.
How they might mirror what's been happening in the United States and then I'll get to my second point.
-- I think in Puerto Rico what you had was a convergence of different issues basically you very bad decisions were made.
Governmental spending much more money than what it could afford to spend well -- sound familiar well it certainly does and the governor of Puerto Rico took the difficult measures necessary.
To be able to basically turn around what was when -- first came many 3.3.
Billion dollar budget deficit that's been reduced to 610.
Million dollars in a matter of three years now when we first came in as a matter of a percent of the total budget that 33 point three billion dollars was 45%.
That's been reduced to 7%.
From -- 51 in the nation with a fifty states and Puerto Rico we've reduced ourselves in that ranking to the fifteenth position so you've seen quite a bit of progress for three years.
Let me stop you there because that that's important information to stop on how -- you can happen.
What -- you have to be sensible you have to do the right things you have to be able to cut cost.
You have to be able look ultimately be responsible fiscal basis surely you spend on the things that need to be spent on.
Are there certain areas or sectors that you.
Found that work specifically for cutting because I mean I'm just thinking.
You've done in six years what we haven't done in and the fifty states you've turned it around so I want to learn from what you've done.
Well basically you have to invest in these types of incentives that are gonna work.
You have to do we wouldn't want just give me an example well in our case we have wonderful incentives in the area manufacturing but we created.
Incentives for tourism for the film industry and we now have -- and -- Porter.
It's -- -- -- it's absolutely beautiful but I'll tell you what you know before incentives.
It was still beautiful and we didn't have as much by William of the film industry and you have now think -- just a matter that you go after those things that are gonna actually be able add value which is what we've done with the export services.
The bill which was recently approved and that's the most exciting area I think.
For future economic growth in Puerto Rico.
When I hear you say the word -- best I think that there's some Americans and and potentially some of our viewers will say -- that's code for spending and how do you spend it invested.
Cut at the same time.
How did you -- film industry without spending big.
Well what you're spending on really is in the case of the film industry tax credits but -- tax credits for money that's being spent and Puerto Rico.
So ultimately what you're doing is bringing foreign direct investment of the island and you provide for some relief for the good the companies that actually bring those creations.
Puerto Rico and in the case of -- island.
Since we have the tourism industry it's gonna get free advertisement and you will -- the movies -- come film and there's those synergies and ultimately could make this work.
Now tell you that the governor Puerto Rico reduced his salary by 10% -- reduce the salaries of.
All of his talent -- with -- you make a lot of money in government the government of Puerto Rico.
He does not but ultimately you have to make the right decisions he has been out -- like a symbolic -- -- that actually -- some revenue in the I have to think it was more about.
Well it's it's symbolic but it's important as well he asked his cabinet members to also take salary cuts.
But you start at home you start at your own place and you set the example.
And we value re able to then have -- the moral mandate to be able to tell people that you have to do the things that are necessary nor from Puerto Rico to be able to get back on the right track which is what we've been able to do.
All right last question for you yet there is this talk of statehood should you become the 51.
State Puerto Rico.
It would sell to me like you'd want some autonomy I don't know if you wanna be thrown end.
To a situation where we now have a mandate on health care you heard the conversation going your quick thoughts on that and then I know you wanted on the channels like Alex again.
Well I'll tell you my my quick thoughts are that Puerto Rican.
Residents have been American citizens for the past 100 years.
And I think just as as a matter.
Of equality we should be able to vote for the precedent that ultimately has the power to send us to war.
We should be able to have representation.
At the house and in the senate that ultimately will provide for laws that will apply to Puerto Rico and and just as a basic.
Measure of of a fundamental fairness we should as a state.
Be able to have the same rights as every other American citizen of the US flag.
The Puerto Rican US citizens have fought in wars and have died in higher numbers -- proportions that the majority of the states and I think that it only big moves -- All of us in Puerto Rico to it to make sure that down the road we have the same types of rights as every other American citizens.
Thank you for taking that question on Jose Perez re -- his Puerto Rico's secretary of commerce a pleasure to have you on this morning.
I now know that when I visit later this year I'm part of your economic comeback.
With me and my allowed kids -- husband significant.
Well war will be waiting for you Puerto Rico much appreciated for that thanks for me thank you.
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