Senate Bill offers Debt Relief for Puerto Rico
por Lydia Andrews
Wednesday, Jul. 25, 2018 at 5:57 PM
New Senate legislation offers additional options for Puerto Rico to cut its debt. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the US Territorial Relief Act. If Congress passes the act, US Territories that experience natural disasters could qualify for debt relief.
"Puerto Rico continues to struggle with the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma," noted Puerto Rico Archbishop Roberto González Nieves. "The hurricanes were made worse by debt crisis and austerity policies. Legislation such as this, can provide us more options for debt relief and greater transparency in the finances of our island."
The bill also creates an audit commission to study the causes of the debt. US Territories, like Puerto Rico, would qualify for relief if two of three criteria are met. The specific criteria refer to population decrease, receiving federal disaster aid and the total debt per person exceeds $15,000.
Both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands likely meet the Senate Bill's eligibility requirements.
“Beyond debt relief, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands still need Congress to authorize more disaster aid to rebuild to withstand the coming storms," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. LeCompte serves on United Nation debt expert groups and works with Puerto Rico religious leaders on resolving the debt crisis. "Without seriously cutting Puerto Rico's debt there is little hope for reducing the high child poverty rate, let alone seeing sustainable economic growth."