Puerto Rico seeks citizens' advice on economy

People line up at an unemployment office of the Labor Department in San Juan March 13, 2014. Puerto Rico's economy has been shrinking since 2006 and suffers from a dwindling population and high unemployment

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The government of Puerto Rico has asked its citizens to send in their ideas on how to revive the economy.

The chief of staff of the Caribbean island, Ingrid Vila, said Puerto Ricans could submit "specific and viable" proposals on a government website.

Ms Vila said she welcomed ideas on how to prevent the exodus of skilled workers and how to tackle the large informal economy, among other issues.

She said more than 450,000 people had left Puerto Rico in the past decade.

The US territory has been in a recession since 2006.

Official figures put the unemployment rate at 15.2%.

Online platform

"We have agreed to open a wider process of public participation, calling on the whole country to submit ideas," Ms Vila told a news conference in the capital, San Juan.

"To achieve this, we have created an online platform that will receive a greater number of proposals," she added.

The government has set up a committee to evaluate any proposal received to "identify and recommend those that best meet the criteria, including feasibility, equality, social justice, sustainability and benefit to the greatest diversity of interests in the country".

Some ideas that were submitted shortly after the website was launched include proposals to build affordable housing and attract foreign investment.

However, there were also calls to scrap a public television channel and to legalise marijuana.

According to official figures, Puerto Rico's labour force participation rate is 41%, compared to 63% in the United States, and the informal economy contributes to about 30% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The self-governing US territory has a population of less than four million.

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