Human lives must be focus of Puerto Rico fiscal plan

Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez, Reverend Heriberto Martinez and Reverend Enrique Camacho, religious leaders from Puerto Rico and Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA wrote and Op-ed featured in The Hill called "Human lives must be focus of Puerto Rico fiscal plan" talks about need of a fiscal plan that focuses on the people in need.

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Human lives must be focus of Puerto Rico fiscal plan

By: Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez, Reverend Heriberto Martinez, Reverend Enrique Camacho, and Eric LeCompte

As Puerto Rico continues to wrestle with power outages across the island, the federally appointed Financial Oversight and Management Board soon votes on a fiscal plan for economic growth. We are concerned that the current proposed fiscal plans fail to focus on improving and protecting the lives of 3.5 million U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico.

A final fiscal plan should meet the following criteria:

  • There should be "breathing space" for the island from debt payments. Earlier proposed fiscal plans included a 5 year moratorium on all debt payments. This debt payment moratorium should be part of the new plan. Additionally, during this period interest must not accrue on the debt.
  • Beyond this five year debt moratorium period, no debt should be paid until Puerto Rico sees positive economic growth, a reduction in child poverty and the island has rebuilt from the hurricanes.
  • Ultimately, the total debt must be restructured and the principal of the debt must be cut. The fiscal plan should reflect the need for definitive debt cancellation of at least 80 percent of Puerto Rico's debt.
  • The fiscal plan should prevent further austerity measures, set goals to reduce child poverty, ensure adequate social protections, defend against corruption and stem migration from the island. 

In recent months, the process around the creation of the fiscal plan has been combative and produced plans that fail to meet the needs of Puerto Rico’s people. We urge the governor, the oversight board, creditors, the people most affected by these crises and all stakeholders to dialogue and work together.