Saturday, December 14, 2019

[EDITORIAL] How to Succeed—by Trying!

By on August 18, 2016

It seems to me that there are two Puerto Ricos, one in which the many walk around complaining and waiting for things to get worse. And the other one, in which a few see great opportunities and are committing their capital and talent on the expectation of huge financial results.

Every person needs to choose their side. It’s like the nays and the yeas.

Success Ferrer columnI, the permanent optimist, selected the yeas and have set myself the goal of remaining in Puerto Rico and benefiting from the opportunities our long recession offers to those willing to accept risk and to be patient.

I am happy to report that the few who firmly have believed Puerto Rico will be coming back strong are being joined by many others. Not only are recent residents under Acts 20/22 putting their money where their future lies, but myriad local entrepreneurs are coming to the frontlines to invest and start new initiatives, especially in export services.

Even more interesting are the several ventures in which locals are joining forces with the new residents, and foreign investors are using Act 185, the Private Equities Funds Law, to establish entities with global scopes. I submit we will see such ventures flourish and become the norm.

So what is happening in Puerto Rico?

It seems clear to me that from the pain of an 11-year recession and fiscal chaos a phoenix is rising. This phoenix is composed mostly of new participants, but it also has attracted old timers like me to commit resources and efforts to benefit Puerto Rico, while partaking of the enormous historical opportunities that Puerto Rico offers today.

The challenge for our readers is to choose their path—join the nays or the yeas.

On a separate note—Save the Bank!

The Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico (GDB) has a rich history of serving the island well. Recently, that success story has faded into a morass of problems that has caused this iconic institution to face insolvency. We must save this bank!

As fiscal agent of the Government of Puerto Rico, the GDB promoted in the U.S. the unique benefits our bonds offered U.S. investors—triple tax exemption—and obtained ample funds at competitive costs to help Puerto Rico grow. It helped Puerto Rico have unfettered access to the most sought-after marketplace on the planet—the U.S. municipal market. Our roads, our airports, our aqueduct and sewage plants, our electric services, our hospitals, bridges, schools, hotels, in fact, most of our infrastructure was financed with the GDB as agent. A job well done, indeed.

Unfortunately, the economic circumstances that prevailed during this past decade prompted those in government to start utilizing the GDB to finance projects that were difficult or improbable financially, and to make loans that lacked clear sources of payment. It slowly became a sort of lender of last resort. Thus, this caused havoc in its fortunes, and today, it stands in peril of extinction. But we need the GDB as a source of financial expertise and experience not found elsewhere on the island, especially now that it behooves Puerto Rico to have its own champion in government to present action plans and strategy to the Junta (federal fiscal-control board) that are appropriate for our future expectations.

As I see it, it is the GDB, amassing the resources of our private sector, which can provide guidance to the Junta, so our island’s interests are given the necessary full attention.

I am positive that by carefully restructuring and reversing the apparent victimization of its assets the GDB has suffered in these past months, the bank can rise to the occasion and exercise once more the financial leadership it garnered over its glorious history. Let’s join in voicing a very loud request to save the bank. Be cognizant; Puerto Rico needs the GDB.

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