Enid Monge: ‘I am going to contribute, not only as a businesswoman, but as an advocate and promoter
By The Star Staff
If elected at-large representative under the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), businesswoman Enid Monge will promote legislation to boost small and midsize businesses, which for decades have been neglected by governing administrations, she said.
As a lawmaker, the first thing Monge will do will be to overhaul the island’s permitting law, which she believes is preventing the growth of local business. The New Progressive Party, she said, has been deteriorating the permitting process by slowly eliminating the one-stop permit, which allowed entrepreneurs to obtain permits in one place to start operating.
“The current administration has dedicated itself to eliminating the ‘permiso único’ [single permit] to the point where we still do not have regulations for it. They have created bureaucracy,” Monge told the Star. “This hurts the creation of businesses.”
She also plans to find ways to boost the farming sector to ensure Puerto Rico has more local sources of food and will promote the creation of patents and manufacturing to strengthen exports.
Monge announced in December that she would run for an at-large House seat under the PDP insignia in this fall’s general elections.
Her candidacy has the support of PDP leadership such as House legislators Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez and Roberto Rivera Ruiz de Porras, Sen. José Luis Dalmau, and San Lorenzo Mayor José “Joe” Román.
Monge is not new to politics, however. She headed the United Retailers Association and was also the business sector representative on the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority board.
“I am going to contribute all the experiences that I have accumulated over the years, not only as a businesswoman, but as an advocate and promoter of entrepreneurship and the retention and generation of jobs,” she said.
Monge knows first hand the plight of small businesses. The flower shop she owns has been hurt by the current pandemic and the high unemployment rate.
While Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced promised to help businesses, and Congress earmarked help to businesses under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Monge said that like hers, many small businesses on the island did not see a cent of the funds.
“I did not get any help,” she said.
She plans to overhaul the current incentives law, which at times appears to benefit big business over the small business sector.
“It is important to bring in manufacturing and investment, but they have to bring added value,” Monge said. “Not everything has to come from outside of Puerto Rico. We need to have a strong local business sector.”
One of the factors impacting local businesses is the high cost of energy, with rates that are higher for the business sector. She said other sectors also charge businesses more for their services.
“If you want to buy a sign and you are a business, they will charge you more,” she said. “That needs to change.”
Among her plans to help boost business and increase employment is to meet with university officials to discuss their curriculum, which she said does not go hand in hand with what future employers want.
“We need to transform the entire country,” Monge said.
She also noted that while Puerto Rico has its homegrown produce, such as coconuts, “we bring everything from out of Puerto Rico.”
Like many members of the business sector, Monge has objected to the government’s handling of the pandemic, which has caused the shutdown of numerous businesses. She said she spent two months without any income because of the lockdown.
“I think that if you educate the people and put the mechanisms in place to deal with the pandemic, you will be able to control the spread,” she said. “These closings have made an enormous hole in the economy.”
Monge added that she plans to continue to conduct her political campaign via social media and “a few radio and television ads.”