Fiscal board chairman: Extent of Puerto Rico crisis justifies new executive director’s salary
SAN JUAN – Financial Oversight and Management Board Chairman José Carrión said the $625,000 yearly salary to be paid to Natalie Jaresko, the board’s new executive director, is justifiable because Puerto Rico’s financial crisis is a “world-class problem” that demands “world-class experience.”
Carrión said Jaresko, Ukraine’s former finance minister, is suited for the job because Puerto Rico’s financial problems are similar to the ones Ukraine faced years ago, a country she helped turn around.
Ukraine, however, was a sovereign country that received $40 billion from the International Monetary Fund to help in its fiscal recuperation. Carrión said Jaresko, who is a U.S. citizen, has dealt with large credit holders and very challenging situations. While Ukraine is a sovereign nation and Puerto Rico is not, Carrión said the island receives material funds from the federal government, and she will ensure they are used properly.
He also noted that Jaresko has contacts in Washington, where she worked in State Department, and was head of the economic section of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. Although she currently serves as president of the administrative council of the Aspen Institute Kyiv and is a distinguished member of the Altantic Council, a member of the Future Council of the World Economic Forum and a member of the School of Business Advising Council at Catholic University in Ukraine. Carrión said the board will continue to support her in those positions because they are not full-time jobs.
Carrión said he is confident Jaresko can help pull Puerto Rico out of its economic crisis. He said Ramón Ruiz Comas, who served as interim executive director, will continue with the board as assistant director to help Jaresko. who was not present at a news conference with reporters.
Jaresko will be traveling to Puerto Rico once a month and will move to the island with her daughter in June, when the school year ends in Ukraine. Her travel expenses will be covered by the board.
She will be attending a meeting scheduled by the board on March 31 to discuss economic development initiatives for Puerto Rico. “While it is not the board’s topic. We will be talking about it,” he said.
As a Board employee and member, Jaresko must disclose all information about her finances. “I can tell you right now that she does not have Puerto Rico bonds,” Carrión said.
The board’s release on the appointment explains that Chicago-born Jaresko “led the negotiation and implementation of the largest International Monetary Fund program in the institution’s history, as well as a complex sovereign and sovereign guaranteed debt restructuring. Her government’s success in restoring macroeconomic stability enabled the creation of a broad financial international financial coalition to support Ukraine’s transition to economic growth.”
“Ukraine’s situation three years ago—like Puerto Rico’s today—was near catastrophic, but she worked with stakeholders to bring needed reforms that restored confidence, economic vitality and reinvestment in the country and its citizens. That’s exactly what Puerto Rico needs today. We are confident she will make an immediate, significant and sustained contribution in our effort to keep Puerto Rico on the path to economic recovery,” board Chairman José B. Carrión says in the release.
“I have been given one job and one job only, and that is to work in support of the Oversight Board and the path they have laid out, alongside the Government of Puerto Rico, to guarantee a decisive and successful recovery for Puerto Rico and its people. I realize this goal may seem daunting if not impossible to many, but I accepted this position because I am optimistic we can achieve it together,” Jaresko says in the release.
During a roundtable with the press in February, Carrión admitted that the process of selecting an executive director faced obstacles and took more time than anticipated.
Jaresko, who is a CPA, earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from DePaul University in Chicago and a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.
She began her career in public service serving in various positions at the State Department in Washington, D.C. from 1989-92, then as the chief of the Economic Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine from 1992-95.
The new board appointee has ample financial background. She was one of the co-founders and CEO of Horizon Capital and served “on over a dozen corporate boards in the financial sector, manufacturing, telecom and agriculture.” Jaresko also served as president and CEO of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund, “creating a platform for private equity investment in the region,” according to the fiscal board’s announcement.