El Nuevo Día10 Feb 2022
From right to left: the Director of Research and Public Policy of the ILE, Ángel Carrión Tavárez; Jorge Rodríguez, founder of the organization; and the academics Luz Fernández López and Ojel Rodríguez Burgos.
With the expectation that Puerto Rico be included in the metrics that serve as the reference when it comes to entrepreneurship and free market and that the government or other local sectors have data and validated information that will contribute to formulating public policies consistent in terms of economy, the entrepreneur Jorge Rodriguez has founded the Institute for Economic Freedom (ILE).
The organization of thought and research would be the first on the island, dedicated to free market issues and according to the engineer, aspires to fill the gap that exists in public discussion when it comes to the conditions for doing business or the science of entrepreneurship and above all, the possibility that each individual can compete, innovate and develop fully.
According to Rodriguez, founder of the industrial process validation company Paciv, it is time for Puerto Rico to learn about the free market, not as an antithesis to the government but as the environment that could contribute to closing the inequality gap that exists in the island and combat poverty.
"Inequality in Puerto Rico is huge. If you look at the economic inequality coefficient (GINI), Puerto Rico has a coefficient of .54 and we know that poverty is twice as high as the state of Mississippi-which is the poorest state - and three times as high as the average in the United States, " Rodriguez said.
The time for the launch of the ILE is more than opportune, according to the engineer.
25 years ago, Rodríguez launched his own validation and support firm for the pharmaceutical and living sciences sector in Puerto Rico. Without seeking - in principle-tax incentives or other government support, the engineer created a service exporting company that - two and a half decades later-maintains its headquarters on the island while growing at a continental level and in Europe, particularly in Ireland. Paciv employs about 130 people. Two-thirds of its profits come from what the firm does abroad.
With such successes, Rodriguez decided to leave Paciv's daily operation in the hands of a new generation. He jokes that now that he devotes his energies to the ILE, Paciv is doing better than ever.
"Through entrepreneurship and Paciv, I managed to thrive and now that I am out (of the company) on a day-to-day basis, the focus is how I can give something back to Puerto Rico," Rodriguez said.
THE MISSING PIECE
"The essence of the free market is basically how you power creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation in individuals”
JORGE RODRÍGUEZ FOUNDER OF PACIV AND CEO OF THE INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC FREEDOM
According to Rodriguez, the economic trauma experienced in Puerto Rico seems to have contributed to a new way of looking at things when it comes to the island's business ecosystem.
According to the engineer, in the past decade, Puerto Rico has seen a transformation towards business activity. He stressed that funds and private investment firms have emerged to finance business projects and education and support organizations have been created so that individuals who so decide can undertake.
Rodríguez added that a decade ago there was no talk of entrepreneurship in universities, which has evolved to the creation of an academic offer on the subject, in turn, encouraged by a new generation interested in carving their future as entrepreneurs instead of employees.
Thus, the missing piece is to contribute to the understanding of economic issues and about how individuals and the state interact, in order that public policy from the Legislature and the government tend to better living conditions and contribute to greater economic prosperity. That is the bet with the creation of the ILE.
El Nuevo Día asked Rodríguez how to promote an organization to promote free enterprise just as Puerto Rico boils up to demands for better government services and better working conditions.
According to the engineer such claims are precisely the reflection of a government and a market that has repeatedly failed its citizens.
The list of consequences is familiar: rent-seeking companies, nepotism, political patronage, lack of transparency, corruption, and a set of government institutions unable to establish adequate regulatory counterweights.
"The essence of the free market is basically how you power creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation in individuals,” he said.
Rodríguez pointed out that the ILE is a non-profit organization, which does not earn any income from the project - rather it finances it until it can count on donations from third parties-and that it is an organization where there will be no room for partisan politics.
The ILE has a board of directors composed of Alejandro Ballester, José B. Carrión, Juan Antonio” Tony " Larrea, Brittney Paul and Gualberto Rodríguez Feliciano.
Rodríguez will serve as chief executive officer of the ILE. University professor Angel Carrión Tavárez will serve as Director of Research and Public Policy and Arturo V. Bauermeister will be the legal advisor. Nicole Vilalte will be in charge of the marketing work of the organization and the presence of the ILE in social networks, while Milton J. Quiles will work as a Research and Public Policy analyst.
THE AGENDA IN 2022
Taking into account that Puerto Rico does not appear “on the radar” when multiple topics are discussed, either in the federal capital, or internationally, the ILE has become an ally of the Fraser Institute, the organization that develops the Economic Freedom Index of North America and analyzes business activity in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Similarly, the ILE will seek to include Puerto Rico in Doing Business North America, an initiative of the University of Arizona, in nothing related to the World Bank and aimed at analyzing government regulations adopted by cities and affecting the opening or closing of businesses.
In addition, according to Carrión Tavárez, for the first time, Puerto Rico will also have an analysis of all occupational licenses, which will be included in the License to Work project, a project of the Institute for Justice in the United States that seeks to analyze how requiring licenses in certain trades by the state increases operational costs or prevents people from being formally integrated into the workforce.