The United Retailers Center made clear its opposition to the proposal that would increase the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, promoted by the administration of President Joe Biden and endorsed by Governor Pedro Pierluisi.
According to the president of the United Retailers Center, Jesús E. Vázquez Rivera, the initiative would cause the closure of 50% of the small and medium businesses.
“We know that the message of Governor Pedro Pierluisi to increase the minimum wage is a commendable one. We all want Puerto Rico to be prosperous and to improve the quality of life of its citizens, but we must see the reality of the country. An increase of that magnitude would cause the closure of over 50% of the businesses of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, ”said Vázquez Rivera in written statements.
“We listened to the secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, Manuel Cidre, and in his explanation he talks about the impact this would have. In the megastores and large factories, this salary could be paid, but the small and medium-sized companies, which are the largest employer, will find it impossible, “he added.
The leader of the United Center for Retailers considered that a gradual increase in the minimum wage would be more viable for employers.
“The representative Joel franqui is resubmitting a project on salary increases, and that project is more viable, since it is one that intends to increase the minimum wage for several years, with real and competitive increases. We have to be less passionate and see the reality of the Puerto Rican economy. First, the government has to improve the way it does business in the country. Every day there is a new increase, electricity and water increase, we have an inventory tax, the cost of maritime transportation has risen significantly, and now there is also an increase in the transportation business. What business can increase a living wage for its employees when it has so many obligations to pay? ”He said.
Vázquez Rivera also mentioned that the increase to the minimum wage of $ 15 will impact the payroll to five billion in the private sector. He estimated that it will be difficult to get that money at a time of economic crisis, when in 2020 there were losses that exceeded 10 trillion dollars.
“They are marrying the increase in salary with tax credits, and if that is a help, but the problem is not the credits, the problem is that there is a cash flow problem in all businesses, and the vast majority of them will not arrive alive to receive that tax aid ”, he concluded.