The White House is announcing members of Puerto Rico's fiscal oversight board established as part of legislation to address the US territory’s debt crisis. President Obama signed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act into law June 29. The board is responsible for triggering debt restructuring on the island and approving the Governor's budget. Four of the seven board members are Puerto Rican. The board members are Carlos Garcia, Jose Carrion III, Andrew Biggs, David Skeel, Arthur Gonzalez, Jose Ramon Gonzalez and Anna Matosantos.
"The humanitarian crisis is getting worse in Puerto Rico and the board needs to urgently authorize the debt restructuring process,” commented Eric LeCompte, a United Nations debt expert and the executive director of the religious development coalition Jubilee USA. Jubilee USA worked on the Puerto Rico debt legislation that authorizes the board. “Most of the members clearly recognize the need to begin a debt restructuring process sooner than later.”
President Obama appointed board members from a pool of recommendations from Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Democratic Senator Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The legislation additionally put a stay on debt lawsuits against Puerto Rico and granted the island tools to restructure all of its debt. Puerto Rico owes over $70 billion overall and defaulted on $2 billion in debt on July 1. The island is in the midst of a decade-long recession, has an unemployment rate more than double the national rate and nearly half its population lives in poverty.