Rosselló Assures no Changes to Puerto Rico Minimum Wage
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló introduced on Monday the Labor Transformation & Flexibility Act, a legislative measure that seeks to implement his labor reform and turn the government into a facilitator for the private sector on the island.
The governor said the measure seeks to remove obstacles for the private sector to improve the conditions of doing business on the island and make Puerto Rico a more competitive jurisdiction.
“The easy thing would be to say I can create 10,000 jobs, but there are many factors. By removing the private sector’s obstacles…the job and wealth bases are expanded in Puerto Rico. That is our goal,” Rosselló stressed during a press conference at the Capitol.
The governor emphasized how important it is for his administration to assess which services offered by the government can be improved upon and which can be provided “by other sectors.” On the other hand, although there is sometimes emphasis placed on energy costs, the tax system and the permitting process, Rosselló pointed out excessive regulation and bureaucracy as the two most significant challenges for businesses in Puerto Rico.
The governor assured that his labor reform doesn’t include changes to the federal minimum wage on the island, despite the fact that the Promesa federal law allows the governor to lower it for people under age 25.
Although he didn’t go into detail about the specifics of the legislation, which had yet to be published when he held his press conference, Rosselló said that the bill will include flexible time, or flexitime, the elimination of the closing law, changes to maternity law, and incentives to small and midsize businesses. Regarding flexitime, Rosselló explained that it will be at the discretion of the employee to make use of it.
As for new workers’ rights, the governor merely stated that the reform will provide “additional benefits to workers so they can have a better quality of life.”
Asked if it will affect workers’ rights, he said that this won’t be the case as most of the changes to be introduced by his labor reform are prospective, impacting mostly people who do not have a job but are searching for one.
Likewise, Rosselló acknowledged that he hasn’t had direct communication recently with union representatives, but said he was available to hold discussions with them.
The governor added that the presentation of his labor reform is another example, both to the federal government and capital markets, that “we are taking reform actions … fostering development in the private sector.”
The press conference was attended by representatives of organizations from several Puerto Rican industries and sectors, as well as various officials such as Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy, Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra and Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario.
The spokesman for the Private Sector Coalition, which comprises 30 private sector organizations, CPA David Rodríguez of the Chamber of Commerce, thanked the governor for having taken into consideration in his Plan for Puerto Rico the labor reform recommendations made by economist Anne Krueger, the fiscal control board and the coalition itself.
For his part, Sen. Miguel Romero, who will chair the Senate Government Committee, said the measure will be addressed responsibly “but urgently” due to the island’s fiscal situation.