PUERTO RICO

Emergency declared at Government Bank

April 08, 2016

Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced today that he has declared a state of emergency at the Government Development Bank aimed at ensuring that Puerto Ricans continue to receive essential government services.

 

The governor said he issued an executive order Friday to halt the erosion of the bank’s dwindling liquidity by only allowing withdrawals to fund necessary costs for health, public safety and education services. The order does not call for a moratorium on the bank’s principal or interest payments.

 

Garcia said the government bank is in talks with creditors regarding a nearly $423 million payment due in May.

 

The order is the first taken under the Puerto Rico Emergency Moratorium and Financial Rehabilitation Act enacted last week, which gives the governor emergency powers to deal with the fiscal crisis, including the ability to declare a moratorium on all bond payments.

 

Courtesy of: Caribbean News Service

Governor signs into law bill for debt moratorium

April 05, 2016

Governor, Alejandro  Padilla has signed into law on Wednesday a bill that allows him to declare a fiscal emergency and implement a debt moratorium to prevent a shutdown of basic government services in the U.S. territory.

 

The law aims in part to help protect the island's Government Development Bank, which is running out of money and could face insolvency amid a decade-long economic crisis. The bank issues loans and oversees debt transactions.

 

A group of legislators dropped attempts to amend the bill to exclude some bonds from the moratorium, saying time was running out to address the bank's situation. They said they would file a separate bill later to deal with the exemption.

 

The bill would allow the bank to enter into receivership if needed.

 

Officials find lost tourists

March 17, 2016

Rescue crews in Puerto Rico say they have found seven tourists who got lost in a popular tropical forest on the island's northeastern corner. It is the second such rescue at El Yunque in less than a week.

 

Police say the tourists called 911 on Monday and were rescued several hours later. Their nationalities have not been released.

 

Two other tourists were lost last week for almost a day until authorities found them in El Yunque, which is the only tropical rain forest in the US National Forest system and attracts thousands of visitors every year.

 

The government of the US territory is urging visitors to stay on the forest's trails.

CDC: 1 in 5 Puerto Ricans could get Zika

March 15, 2016

After touring Zika response efforts in Puerto Rico for the first half of this week, the Centre for Disease Control Director Tom Frieden said the outbreak is a crisis that must be addressed.   

 

CDC experts say that the disease could infect as many as one in five people in Puerto Rico with new cases already doubling every week. With a population of around 3.5 million, that could add up to about 700,000 people. 

 

Jessica Schindelar, a communications specialist for the CDC’s Zika Emergency Operations Center based on St. Croix, said the Puerto Rican estimate is based on how previous mosquito-borne disease outbreaks unfolded.

 

Puerto Rico has had four large outbreaks of dengue with the most recent one occurring in 2010 when nearly 27,000 suspected cases were reported. In 2012 the Virgin Islands reported a total of 69 suspected and confirmed cases of dengue.

 

“Dengue and chikungunya all caused high rates of illness in Puerto Rico during prior outbreaks and so we anticipate Zika will follow a similar pattern there,” Schindelar said.

Governor not to seek re-election

December 18, 2015

Puerto Rico’s embattled governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla,  has said that he will not put himself up for re-election, as the US Caribbean Commonwealth struggles with huge debts and a massive outflow of residen

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“I have decided to do the right thing for my people..even though I want to do it with all my heart, I am not going to seek re-election,” Padilla said in a televised speech. “The torch is more important than the runner,” he added. “We have got to keep our recovery on track,” said the PPD (Popular Democratic Party) leader, who has been governor since 2013.

 

More than 300,000 people have moved to the US mainland for jobs, further enfeebling the economy.

 

The administration of President Barack Obama has repeatedly said it will not bail out Puerto Rico, but it has strongly supported bankruptcy legislation to allow an orderly debt restructuring under court supervision.

 

In mainland US politics, he is a Democratic Party member.

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