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First Bancorp CEO forms business alliance

First Bancorp CEO forms business alliance

A prominent Puerto Rican banker is urging private sector leaders to join an alliance to help boost the U.S. island's ailing economy by providing training and assistance to local businesses.
Luis Beauchamp, chief of First Bancorp, said on Wednesday that his alliance, dubbed the "Business Movement," could help spur private sector development and create jobs in Puerto Rico, where July jobless claims pushed the unemployment rate to a soaring 16.5 percent.
"We've had our heads buried in the sand like an ostrich. We have stayed in the Lamento Borincano,'" he said, referring to an old song about the hardships of a Puerto Rican peasant. "The only way to solve this crisis is by joining hands to get the wheels running."
The veteran banker, who joined First Bancorp in 1990 and was appointed as president and CEO in 2005, said helping the private sector grow could allow island businesses to absorb public employees laid off by the administration of Gov. Luis Fortuno.
Fortuno, who accuses the administration of previous Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila of mismanaging finances and helping create a $3.2 billion budget deficit, has announced cuts of 30,000 public sector jobs as he tries to close a budget deficit and right the economy.
Authorities say the U.S. territory is well into its third consecutive year of recession. Puerto Rico's economy contracted 5.5 percent in the fiscal year ending June 30.