SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Puerto Rico's government is launching a website asking people to submit ideas on how the U.S. territory can turn around its economy.
The governor's Chief of Staff, Ingrid Vila, said the government is looking for ideas on how to prevent the exodus of skilled workers, among other things.
She said Wednesday that more than 450,000 people have left the island in the past decade, more than half of them after 2006. She also said that Puerto Rico's labor force participation rate is 41 percent, compared to 63 percent in the U.S.
The island of 3.67 million people is entering its eighth year of recession and is battling a 15.2 percent unemployment rate.
Also this week, the government of Puerto Rico introduced draft legislation requiring businesses to have payment systems certified by the island's Treasury Department for the purpose of combating widespread sales-tax evasion.
The government said it only receives 56 percent of the sales tax it should collect, representing an annual shortfall of some $900 million.
The draft bill sent by Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla to the statehouse imposes the use of certified payment registers in all businesses engaged in sales, as well as the exchange of information between municipalities and the Treasury Department.
These modifications are, according to the government, "a chance to modernize the way business is done in Puerto Rico," since now many establishments have two machines that generate receipts: one for the transaction itself and the other for taxes.
EFE contributed to this report.