Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis continues to dominate headlines in 2016, but the country’s fiscal troubles have been brewing for years. Corporate welfare has not helped the situation, including the $519.7 million in taxpayer funds that has been provided to 11 agricultural biotech firms in the last 10 years.
Classified as farmers, businesses like Monsanto and Dupont Pioneer (previously Pioneer Hi Bred) are eligible for generous government subsidies. As Eliván Martínez Mercado reports for Investigative Reporting Workshop, these businesses have benefited from generous tax rates, tax exemptions, industrial incentives, and wage subsidies.
Mercado writes, “The administration from both parties—the Popular Democratic Party and the New Progressive Party—over the last decade were not the first ones to grant incentives to this sector, but they continued doing it after it had already been evident that corporate welfare did not work as a primary tool for economic development.”
However, the Puerto Rico Agricultural Biotechnology Industry Association’s chief defended the business subsidies, claiming that they have created 3,385 jobs.
Although Mercado argues that biotech businesses should not be eligible for the same subsidies as farmers, the reality is that no private firm should be entitled to taxpayer funds.