Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Trade (DDEC) recently launched a Blockchain Advisory Council, reportedly to “attract and develop companies based on blockchain technology,” according to local news outlet El Nuevo Dia.
The move was announced by the island’s secretary of economic development and commerce, Manuel Laboy Rivera, during the Blockchain Unbound conference in San Juan. The advisory council will comprise of members of both the private and public sector, including Rivera.
It will also include the government’s chief innovation officer (CIO) Luis Arocho, its commissioner of Financial Institutions George Joyner, and a number of blockchain industry entrepreneurs who recently moved to Puerto Rico.
El Nuevo Dia, citing sources close to the agency, reports the advisory will unofficially serve as a “filter” to distinguish legitimate blockchain projects that help solve the island’s problems, from projects that don’t hold any value.
This, as recently “blockchain” has become a buzzword companies take advantage of. As covered by CCN, Long Island Iced Tea’s shares surged 300% after it rebranded to Long Blockchain.
The news outlet’s source stated:
“[Blockchain] is becoming a ‘catchphrase’ in the same way that many companies were previously mentioning “cloud” solutions. The government is very careful about which projects to support.”
Rivera further revealed that the government, through the Blockchain Advisory Council, will develop the best possible regulations and legal framework to further support blockchain businesses. As a US commonwealth, the island offers entrepreneurs the same protections given by the US federal government.
These entrepreneurs flocked to Puerto Rico after the country’s infrastructure was decimated by Hurricane Maria back in September, at about the same time most cryptocurrencies saw their value skyrocket. The island’s government has offered entrepreneurs attractive tax incentives, in a bid to boost its depressed economy.
One of these incentives can be found within the Internal Revenue Code, and is called Act 22. It reportedly allows non-residents to not pay taxes on long-term capital gains. Speaking to CNBC, Laboy stated:
“Before the natural disaster, the hurricane, we were already targeting Puerto Rico to become a world leader — not only a regional leader, but a world leader — in export services and technology. That was part of the vision that Gov. (Ricardo) Rossello has for Puerto Rico.”
One of the first entrepreneurs to move to the island was Tether co-founder Brock Pierce, who together with other businessmen are creating what’s been dubbed a “crypto utopia” in the region.
As covered by CCN, research recently found Tether itself may have a banking relationship with Puerto Rico-based Noble Bank. If true, this would put to rest rumors that Tether is a Ponzi scheme using its USDT tokens to pump bitcoin’s price.
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