He stressed that, in a podcast with the executive director of the American Bankruptcy Institute, Sam Gerdano, board adviser Andrew Wolfe made a comment that was inconsistent “with the position of the government of Puerto Rico and the private sector in matters of economic policy.”
In his letter, addressed to board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko, Masses said Wolfe should not make public comments that harm Puerto Rico’s initiatives. He also questioned why the board would have someone who is “directly opposed” to the efforts of the island’s government and the private sector in Congress.
Amid the island’s economic crisis, “both the government of Puerto Rico and the private sector have been in Congress for months promoting a more equitable tax treatment for the island that promotes and encourages manufacturing investment in the island,” the PRMA stressed in a release Friday.
In the podcast, Wolfe said Puerto Rico should not focus on promoting tax incentives to stimulate its economy because “in 20 years somebody would take those breaks away again,” as happened with the section 936 incentives, according to the PRMA release.
The association’s president added that investment in manufacturing is currently the “best option” for the island because it “has the greatest multiplier effect in terms of employment and better wages than the tourism sector.”
The PRMA said its main concern is that the comments “are not only contrary to what was discussed” with the fiscal board, but “could also be used against our efforts in Congress.”
Masses said he was available to meet with Wolfe and “present the arguments of the PRMA in favor of the incentives to manufacture.”
Wolfe was independently contracted by the board as an economic adviser. He has a doctorate in economics and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He retired in 2014 from the International Monetary Fund after 27 years, where he was a senior manager of the Western Hemisphere Department, and co-authored “Puerto Rico: A Way Forward,” a government-commissioned report in 2015 on recommended structural and fiscal reforms, as well as the island’s public debt.