The San Juan Daily Star
Retailers Association rips proposal to bar cash transactions
By The Star Staff
United Retailers Association (CUD by its Spanish acronym) President Lourdes M. Aponte Rodríguez on Thursday rejected House Bill (HB) 1655, which would eliminate the use of cash in commercial transactions.
The goal of the bill is to fight and prevent money laundering.
We are tired of the fact that small and medium-sized businesses [often referred to as SMEs] continue to suffer under measures that only favor the banking sector,” the CUD leader said. “We cannot continue limiting the accessibility of services to only electronic payment methods when there are marked generational gaps, where the exchange of services in specific sectors is done by paying in cash since not everyone has bank accounts, credit cards or alternative payment methods over the internet.
According to the institution, Puerto Rico is at a critical juncture due to the inefficiency of an unstable system of electrical energy service, which places the general public in a situation of greater vulnerability since the commercial transaction system depends heavily on the electrical system and communications such as the internet. Aponte Rodríguez asserted that the measure lacks analysis and studies supporting the argument that it would guarantee greater revenue collection and greatly reduce tax evasion.
She said she believes there are no metrics. And although the measure indicates that it is voluntary, it is common knowledge that what starts as something voluntary later becomes the law, she said.
Aponte Rodríguez went on to say that HB 1655 impedes the development and progress of SMEs, which are the economic engine that moves a country. In addition, she said it goes against the current trend in the mainland United States, where many states have enacted laws that prohibit the elimination of paper money as a payment method. Even currently, a bipartisan bill called the Payment Choice Act is before the consideration of Congress, which would prohibit the elimination of paper money as a payment method.
“This measure [HB1655] does not represent a solution and any offer of tax relief is tied to the decision of the Fiscal Control Board [sic],” the CUD president said. “Continuing to insist and invest money from the public treasury to promote punitive measures that are detrimental to the merchant and the consumer does not advance and does not facilitate greater access to services. Furthermore, the law of providing two payment alternatives in each establishment is already complied with in all establishments.”
“The request from SMEs is simple; be more facilitators, and create optimal conditions for sustainable development,” Aponte Rodríguez said. “Unfortunately, this [bill] only creates greater uncertainty for us. It slows down the economic development of a country due to poorly planned and unfounded actions. SMEs cannot continue being a guinea pig for measures that would facilitate a sector [banking] and would cause operational charges to those already imposed.”