PDP’s Bernier Calls for Debt Restructuring
SAN JUAN – The gubernatorial candidate for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), David Bernier, favored the restructuring of Puerto Rico debt to address the commonwealth’s lack of liquidity, as well as efforts to obtain funds to incentivize the island’s economic development.
While presenting his proposals on the matter Monday, Bernier indicated that in the next few months, Puerto Rico had pending debt obligations to the tune of $1.4 billion, which stand to have a huge negative impact on government services to island residents. The government also owes about $2 billion to suppliers, he added.
The PDP candidate also criticized recent proposals by the U.S. Congress to address the Puerto Rico crisis, namely the establishment of the proposed Fiscal Oversight & Management Board. Bernier said the board constitutes an insult to the Puerto Rican people because it threatens the commonwealth’s autonomy and capacity to address its internal affairs and that the party is prepared to fight the board’s implementation on every front because “it shows a lack of good faith and interest in helping our people.” He added that he has already talked with Reps. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) and Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) to open a front in the U.S. Congress against the measure.
“With each passing day, our dependence on a congressional bill shortens the degree in which Puerto Rico can take action,” Bernier pointed out. “Evidently, the Republican Congress does not have a genuine interest in solving this situation on time.”
The PDP leader said his 10-point proposal includes a system designed to handle the commonwealth’s public debt. The proposal would establish a negotiation mechanism for the public debt that would allow for a just and equitable system, but would not include a default, he said.
Bernier noted that the only permanent way to get out of the crisis to reactivate the economy and spur job creation. This in turn would generate enough tax revenue, allowing the government to continue providing services to its citizens and comply with its debt obligations to creditors, he added.
According to Bernier, the main problem is the government does not have sufficient funds to pay creditors under the established deadlines, and that a moratorium in the payment of the debt’s principal would free up much-needed liquidity.
“This would allow us to use those resources to carry out capital improvement plans that would create jobs,” Bernier said. “At the same time, we could use such resources to transfer funds to the retirement pension plans [for teachers and government employees], and pay our suppliers.”
The gubernatorial candidate also plans to talk with the resulting presidential candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties and ask for their support in looking for a solution to the Puerto Rico crisis.
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