Those steps include reducing the $3.3 billion budget deficit he inherited by 90%, launching a public-private partnership (P3) program that is being held up as a model for the nation, cutting bureaucracy and enacting an array of incentives aimed at kickstarting the economy.
“If we do not set the conditions for the creation of jobs, jobs will not be created,” the governor said. “Government will not create jobs. It will consume the wealth created by other people.”
Fortuño spoke during the LIBRE Initiative’s Economic Freedom Forum & Policy Luncheon at Condado’s La Concha hotel, which sought to analyze the impact that current economic policies are having on the island and how they could be applied to the rest of the country. Top commonwealth government officials, such as Economic Development Secretary José R. Pérez-Riera, also took part along with representatives from national conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the CATO Institute, as well local business groups like the Puerto Rican Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Officials of the LIBRE Initiative said that analyzing Puerto Rico’s economic trajectory over the past several years could provide key strategies on how Hispanics on the island and the mainland can directly contribute to building a renewed and free American economy.
Fortuño said that his administration’s efforts are paying off, and that Puerto Rico’s general obligation bond rating is now better than it was when he first took office. He also touted a net increase of 18,000 jobs over the last year, as well as a 30% increase in housing sales, a 44% increase in auto sales and a 14% increase in new corporations on the island.
The governor said his P3 initiative has sparked a $4.7 billion investment in infrastructure, while energy policies have helped spur $2 billion in renewable energy projects.
Meanwhile, 11 tourism projects have created a $900 million investment and 1,300 new hotel rooms, while new film industry incentives have attracted 60 productions to the island for a $170 million investment.
“We in my administration like you in the LIBRE Initiative share the same mission to improve the economy through the promotion of private enterprise and creating a more efficient government,” Fortuño said. “Private businesses, not the government, should be the motor of the economy on the island.”