by Gil Hall gil@prnewsroundup.com

Fajardo, PR – 20161118 083545

The Control Board appointed by the US Congress to supervise Puerto Rico’s finances for the foreseeable future meet today for the third time in Fajardo, PR at the Conquistador Hotel.

The meeting starts at 7:30ET and will be broadcast live on the Board’s website. http://juntasupervision.pr.gov/Pages/Webcast-en-Vivo.aspx

The documents to be discussed at today’s meeting are also available on the Control Board’s website http://juntasupervision.pr.gov/Pages/Documentos.aspx

While English has been the operating language for the two prior meetings, the Board is making an effort–a first in this years’-long process–to be linguistically inclusive. Some of the documents for the meeting are being made available in Spanish, and audio for the live broadcast is being simulcast in English and Spanish. Census data indicate 80% of the island’s residents report they speak English “less than well”. Approximately 95% of islanders speak Spanish as their daily language.

The Control Board was appointed by President Obama in accordance with the PROMESA law passed in June 2016 in an effort to resolve the financial crisis facing the island.

With $70 billion in municipal bond debt–and at least $30 billion more in unfunded pension liabilities–the island faces difficult times. While its economy has officially been in contraction since 2006, significant structural problems have existed for decades.

Unlike the two prior meetings, which were held in New York’s Custom House and open to the public, today’s conference is by invitation only, with approximately 75 invites.

Security for the meeting–being held at the remote Conquistador Resort in Fajardo, PR–is extremely tight. Protestors are being kept on the resort’s periphery. Attendees were required to go through three security checks before entering the conference room. Hundreds of police and security personnel are present.

Today’s meeting begins the highly technical task of analyzing and disentangling Puerto Rico’s complex finances. Among those testifying today are representatives from Conway-Mackenzie, who will provide an update to their August 2015 cashflow report. Understanding Puerto Rico’s true  balance sheet and liquidity position will be crucial as the Board works with the Puerto Rican Legislature to constrain costs, implement efforts to grow the economy, while also servicing at least some of the island’s debt payments.

The meeting is scheduled to run approximately three hours.

 

About Gil Hall

Currently writing book on PR crises. Working title: "Los Pertrechos: the Story of an Economy". Polyglot prone to prolixity in English, German &, Spanish. Based between San Juan and North Carolina. MBA/MHA.