Washington DC - Puerto Rico's oversight board reviews a new plan on economic growth and debt payments to the island's creditors in San Juan today. The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico was appointed through an act of Congress in 2016 to bring balanced budgets to the US territory wrestling with a $72 billion debt crisis.
"The new fiscal plan is based on rosy short-term growth estimates and relies on Congress to fund tens of billions more in disaster aid and health benefits," noted Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. "While we need to see more aid getting to Puerto Rico, the current approved debt deals and fiscal plan are paying too much to creditors and pushing too much austerity."
On the island, religious leaders are concerned that the fiscal plan doesn't match the reality of life on the ground. Before Hurricanes Maria and Irma hit Puerto Rico last year, the island struggled with a close to 60 percent child poverty rate.
"While markets celebrate over temporary economic growth from aid and rebuilding efforts we still see our people, especially our children suffering," stated San Juan's Catholic Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez. "We need a path forward that provides long-term sustainability for our economy, our people and our environment."
In a recent debt plan over Puerto Rico sales tax backed bonds or COFINA, concerns remain that a debt payment model is being set that pays too much to creditors.
"Our first priority must be reducing austerity and finding a path to sustainable economic growth," stated Reverend Heriberto Martinez who is the Evangelical head of the island's General Bible Society and leads a religious coalition on Puerto Rico's debt. "Our people need a comprehensive and total debt restructuring so our children can be free of this problem."
Read the New Fiscal Plan for Puerto Rico