Washington DC - According to a report from Axios, President Trump told advisers that additional hurricane relief monies should not be sent to Puerto Rico as the monies could be used to pay the island's debt.
"We are concerned that hurricane relief monies are providing a budget surplus that can pay Puerto Rico's debt," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious debt relief group, Jubilee USA. "A great concern is that the oversight board of Puerto Rico approved a recent fiscal plan with projected budget surpluses based on current and expected hurricane relief monies. Without Congress action, this budget surplus could be used to pay debt."
Since early 2018 Congress and federal relief agencies passed nearly $40 billion in hurricane relief and health-care funding for Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico's government and oversight board estimate this is about a third of the total needed for aid and rebuilding efforts.
"The reality is that Puerto Rico needs more relief aid, but that aid shouldn't create a budget surplus that can be used to pay the debt," said LeCompte, who serves as an expert to United Nation agencies on debt policies. "There is a simple fix. Congress needs to act and fence off current and future hurricane relief monies for the sole purpose of recovery and not allow a penny to be used for debt payments."