Monday, November 18, 2019

Puerto Rico House-passed Incentives Code bill requires disclosure of firms with tax breaks

By on June 21, 2019

New Progressive Party Rep. Antonio “Tony” Soto (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

Rep. Soto says gov’s office on board making all related data public

SAN JUAN — Puerto RIco’s House of Representatives passed Friday an Incentives Code bill amended to provide that all government tax decrees given to businesses be published in a government portal.

The information was provided by House Treasury, Budget and Promesa Committee Chairman Antonio Soto Torres at a news conference Thursday, where he spoke about amendments made to the bill. Currently, the names of the companies operating in Puerto Rico and their tax decrees are considered confidential.

The Incentives Code has more than 530 pages and is slated to be the island’s economic foundation, Soto said.

“When we asked for information, it came to us fragmented and was unreliable. This code seeks transparency. The manner in which this would work is there is going to be a single portal that all applicants will use to submit all documents. For the Department of Economic Development and Commerce [DDEC by its Spanish acronym] to evaluate it, the data have to be there,” Soto said.

The lawmaker said “everyone,” including those that have decrees and the ones that seek decrees, will have to be published.

The proposed code strengthens the office that will monitor the incentives to ensure businesses comply with what they committed to do in exchange for the incentives, and that these provide the legislature with regular reports on their return on investment.

“A tax decree is a contract,” he said.

A business that has incentives will have to disclose its name, preferential rate, the date on which the decree was requested, the municipality where the exempt business will operate and the list of municipal exemptions it enjoys.

“We feel confident that the information that we are demanding will be made public. La Fortaleza [the governor’s office] has agreed with what we are requesting. Everyone has to be registered in the single system with all the information and list the decrees granted and those that will be given,” the representative said.

The bill will now goes to the Senate for consideration. If the upper chamber further amends the measure, a conference committee would be formed to reconcile the differences between the legislative bodies.

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