Business groups: Permitting law changes should be taken up in special

By The Star Staff

Business groups demanded Tuesday the inclusion in the special legislative session of a bill that would simplify the permitting process.

“The Single Permit platform is a resounding failure,” noted Jorge Argüelles Morán, president of the United Retailers Association (CUD by its Spanish acronym) as he demanded the government deal with the problem. “Now there are more problems than before; resources and money were lost in a system that hurts the bona fide merchant, who only wants to support his family and promote the economic development of Puerto Rico.”

The island’s main business organizations, such as the CUD, the Chamber of Food Marketing, Industry and Distribution (MIDA), the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, the Gasoline Retailers Association, Entrepreneurs for PR, the Chamber of Industrial Signs and Advertisements, the Association of Inspection Centers, Coopharma, the Puerto Rico Funeral Homes Association and the Federation of Long-Term Care Institutions, among others, have been trying for months to push for the approval of the House Bill 2404, which aims to solve the problem of the Joint Permits Regulation.

House Bill 2404 amends the permits reform of 2009 to simplify the permitting process, including by reducing paperwork.

“From the beginning we have raised concerns about the regulations that have been enacted, due to the adverse impact they have on the operations of the business sector,” Argüelles said in a statement. “To this end, we have held various meetings and participated in work forums at the level of the Legislature and the Department of State to air concerns and discuss possible solutions. However, it was surprising that the measure was left out of the special session that the governor convened, and time is running out.”

MIDA Executive Vice President Manuel Reyes said the Single Permit platform is not only incompatible with the purpose of the law, but also has harmed business sectors since it doubles, and in some cases triples, the costs of doing business.

“The law was intended to make the process simpler and more agile, but the reality is that the process is now more complex, where the business is required to present more than 16 documents, as if it were a new permit application,” Reyes said. “This, when the Single Permit is supposed to be a simple registry where all the permits and operating licenses in the sector would be consolidated, for simplicity. The result has been entirely the contrary.”