One of the most popular options as Congress works to come up with a solution for Puerto Rico’s debt crisis is a neutral oversight board to help with the Island’s fiscal management. Governor Alejandro García Padilla, however, along with other leaders in Puerto Rico, has expressed concern that such a board might threaten Puerto Rico’s autonomy.
The Governor has also said that he will be available to explain his views to the Natural Resources Committee at the upcoming hearing on the matter.
García Padilla and President Obama spoke during the recent Democratic Governors Association’s meeting, according to Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia, which also printed an interview with the governor. The Governor expressed his hope that Congress will give Puerto Rico tools to restructure its debt. “I wish all the Republicans had the consciousness about the topic that speaker Paul Ryan has,” the Governor reportedly said.
Asked whether the extension of chapter 9 to Puerto Rico would help, the governor said that it would help, but would not provide the comprehensive restructuring that Puerto Rico needs. He is ready to place a moratorium on payments to creditors, and emphasized that Puerto Rico’s financial needs are urgent.
Garcia Padilla also said that a fiscal oversight board that removed authority from elected officials would not be acceptable. Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi has said the same thing. However, both Pierluisi and Garcia Padilla recognize that Puerto Rico’s financial history has led to a lack of credibility for the Island.
El Nuevo Dia asked whether concerns about autonomy could be remedied by having the Government of Puerto Rico approving the Board. The governor answered that “Puerto Rico should be able to approve its budgets.”
The governor reiterated that he does not favor having an oversight board, but that he feels most strongly that such as board will have to respect Puerto Rico’s local autonomy.