Puerto Rico's major political parties were busy Monday framing the conclusions of a report prepared in Washington as to the effects the Caribbean island's incorporation as the 51st U.S. state would have on taxation.
Congress' General Accountability Office analyzed the possible effects of statehood on federal aid programs and on the taxes paid by private individuals and companies.
The secretary of relations with the U.S. of the small Puerto Rican Independence Party, Manuel Rodriguez Orellana, told Efe Monday that what is shown by the report is that with statehood, the federal government would find itself paying out more in benefits to residents of Puerto Rico without any corresponding increase in tax revenues from the island.
Puerto Ricans in general, he said, do not feel a part of the United States, and the only interest some sectors on the island have in statehood springs from the need to keep federal aid coming and to maintain a status that benefits the ruling PPD party and the main opposition PNP.
The PPD - which favors enhanced commonwealth status for Puerto Rico - said that while on the one hand statehood would increase federal funding, on the other the island would lose $7.88 billion as a result of new federal levies.
The secretary general of the PPD, Jorge Suarez, said that the additional $5 billion in federal aid that Puerto Rico would receive if it becomes a state, according to the GAO report, is a figure far below the approximately $20 billion the pro-statehood PNP is talking about
Suarez estimated that many foreign companies would leave the island if Puerto Rico should become a state, which in turn would signify the loss of more than 85,000 jobs.
PNP leader and Puerto Rico's non-voting delegate to the U.S. Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, said the GAO report confirms the fact that Puerto Rico receives unequal treatment by multiple federal programs.
"Taking into account the programs discussed in the GAO report, as well as dozens of other federal programs in which we receive a discriminatory treatment that the GAO does not mention, it is reasonable to expect that annexation will bring an increase of between $9 billion and $10 billion annually in federal funds to the island," Pierluisi said.