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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Fiscal board’s latest Ease of Doing Business Survey finds difficulties persist

Financial Oversight and Management Board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko

By The Star Staff

The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico on Wednesday released the results of its latest Ease of Doing Business Survey, showing that the business environment in Puerto Rico remains difficult.

The study underscores the importance of reducing obstacles to starting and sustaining a business through improvements to the processes of obtaining permits, registering properties and other reforms, the oversight board said.

“The business community plays a critical role in Puerto Rico’s economic development, fostering investment, growth and job creation,” Natalie Jaresko, the oversight board’s executive director, said in a statement. “We want to better understand the challenges they face and how best to help this critical sector.”

The oversight board polled 375 businesses between November and December 2021 to gauge the ease of doing business over the previous six months.

The results found that 54% said that requested services from the government took longer than usual, and 88% said obtaining permits is “somewhat difficult” to “very difficult,” with 54% describing obtaining permits as “very difficult.” The difficulties identified by respondents include having to consult multiple agencies (28%), lack of clarity in the requirements (23%), and “lack of interest” from government employees involved (22%).

About 75% consider the cost of registering a property to be “somewhat high” to “very high,” and 72% find the process “inefficient” or “difficult.” About 54% of survey respondents consider the number of tax filings to be the major reason for difficulty; tax rates are considered too high.

The latest survey also found that the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a deep effect on the private sector, as many respondents said they were continuing to face adversities nearly two years after COVID-19 first arrived in Puerto Rico. Only 58% said they have recovered from the pandemic, 45% said they have difficulty in finding skilled employees, and only 17% of the labor force is considered competently skilled, easily trained and/or adapted to support businesses.

The oversight board said it will continue to survey Puerto Rico’s businesses to determine how the business

environment changes and if changes implemented by the government are seen by the business community as effective.

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