Ito Bisonó: “There has never been an investment like the one that is coming to the DR”

“There has never been an investment like the one that is coming to the Dominican Republic in industry, in free trade zones, foreign investment: it is a complement of everything”. This was assured by the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Mipymes, Víctor (Ito) Bisonó who, despite not being a member of the government party, defends the administration as if he were a militant.

He assured that this year 2021 will break the record of cement production, exports and consumption in the Dominican Republic. “Of the six cement factories, four are in expansion for more than US$100 million each. Almost 500 million dollars in expansion,” informed the official.

He also highlighted the announcement by the Association of Industries of the Dominican Republic (AIRD) that only 64 industries will invest RD$79 billion next year. “That easily doubles or triples because, at the end of the day, there are much more than 64 industries,” adding that this will be able to generate more jobs.

“Investors move and come where there is confidence, where there is legal certainty, where there is guarantee and that is happening with the government,” he said.

Last week Fitch Ratings announced that it upgraded the Dominican Republic’s outlook from negative to stable and affirmed its rating at BB- due to a faster than expected economic growth this year, the reduction of the fiscal deficit and its “solid recovery”.

With this decision, the rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P Global) also upgraded the country’s credit outlook from negative to stable, and highlighted its economic recovery in the current COVID-19 pandemic.

During his participation in this newspaper’s Diálogo Libre segment, Minister Bisonó acknowledged that the incentives can be revised, as was discussed last October, especially because of a bill submitted to the Senate which suddenly eliminates a series of tax incentives for many productive sectors and civil servants, in order to increase the State’s revenues.

However, he noted that, in the case of free zones, the incentives mean competition for other countries. “It is nothing that has been invented here to give a privilege to someone in the Dominican Republic, it is that we simply remove them (the incentives to the free zones) and they go to Costa Rica, to Panama, to any other place, then we stop having 180,000 jobs,” he said.

Between January and October of this year, the free zones of the Dominican Republic reached 180,252 jobs, which represents a growth of 8.4% when compared to the same period of 2020, informed the National Council of Free Export Zones.

The entity highlighted that this number of jobs constitutes a “record figure” in the last 17 years, since 2004, when the sector had not surpassed 180,000 direct jobs.

Although -Ito- Bisonó defends the exemptions to the free zones, he considers that there are others that can be cut, such as those existing in the hydrocarbon sector.

“It is necessary to think objectively, with a plan and a strategy to apply, that it is not possible either to party (the revision of the exemptions); but that we have to go looking for it to be efficient, economic and competitive, so that in the Dominican Republic there can be investments”, he indicated.

From local to foreign
“The local Dominican industry is the main exporter of cosmetics and plastics to the Caribbean. Dominican hair products are number one in the world and are reaching such exotic countries as Slovakia and Russia,” said Fantino Polanco, Vice-Minister of Industrial Development, who accompanied Bisonó at the Free Dialogue.

Bisonó concluded by saying that the Dominican cosmetics industry grew by 300%. To which Polanco added that a RD$108 million project is underway at the Ministry to develop the production capacities of the cosmetics sector.

Polanco also indicated that the main supplier for the reconstruction of Puerto Rico after hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 was the Dominican Republic. “First supplier of steel rods in Puerto Rico,” he assured.

He reported that in the present year 2021, some sectors, such as soaps and detergents have had the best year “ever” in the local manufacturing industry.

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