• The San Juan Daily Star

Substitute bill seeks to improve access to economic relief for SMEs

House Small and Midsize Businesses and Permits Committee Chairman Jessie Cortés Ramos

By The Star Staff

House Small and Midsize Businesses and Permits Committee Chairman Jessie Cortés Ramos introduced substitute legislation for House Bills 1081 and 1100 on Tuesday that seeks to provide direct relief for the high operating expenses that micro, small and midsize companies endure on a daily basis.

The Popular Democratic Party lawmaker said the measure also addresses failures in the distribution of funds from economic programs intended for this large sector of the Puerto Rico economy.

“This Small and Midsize Business Committee, together with the House of Representatives in general, has been advancing measures that address much-needed issues, such as raising the minimum wage for our employees in Puerto Rico,” said the Moca, Aguada, Rincón, Añasco and Mayagüez district representative. “However, we are very aware that this increase should not be done to the detriment of our micro, small and midsize businesses.”

“We intend, among other things, to maintain a balance of interests between companies and economic development, and thus promote the creation of more companies; promote and encourage fiscal and operational compliance of these with government agencies; and comply with the established public policy of economic development on the island,” Cortés Ramos said.

To that end, the bill would amend a series of laws, such as the Incentives Law for the Generation and Retention of Jobs in small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) and the Employment Security Law of Puerto Rico, in order to expand the categories of SMEs Eligible for Expansion and Eligible SMEs with Net Operating Losses to those companies that have started operations on a date after Jan. 1, 2014.

Likewise, the substitute measure seeks to temper the partial reimbursement of wages to the new state minimum wage established by Act 47-2021, require an annual report on the performance of the law and improve the operation of the Fund for the Promotion of Job Opportunities for those SMEs with Agreements for the Creation of Jobs.

“As a country, we need the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, through its efforts and programs, to be able to guarantee that all the possible funds destined for micro and small and midsize companies on the island can finally reach them, always promoting efficiency in the use of these funds,” Cortés Ramos said.

The bill is the product of teamwork between the committee chairman and Citizen Victory Movement Rep. José Bernardo Márquez Reyes.

“There is over $5 million available annually to support SMEs to retain, and even expand, their workforce,” Márquez Reyes said. “Unfortunately, what we discovered during the hearings for House Bill 1081 is that this money has been lost year after year due to administrative obstacles that made it impossible to disburse these funds to SMEs that needed it so much.”

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