The Oversight Board said yesterday that it will file a motion before the island's bankruptcy court to postpone the hearing to discuss the proposed Plan of Adjustment (POA) until further notice.
The Board announced its decision just as the government confirmed 21 COVID-19 cases and the first death in Puerto Rico.
"Puerto Rico, like most of the world, faces an unprecedented reality in light of COVID-19. In response to the outbreak, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced has taken important measures to protect the Island’s residents. The Oversight Board agrees that the health and safety of the people of Puerto Rico must be the number one priority at this time," the Board´s statement reads.
Earlier this month and with the endorsement of the Mediation Team, the Board succeeded in having Judge Laura Taylor Swain scheduling the disclosure statement hearing on the central government's POA for next June, and also to submit the government's payment plan for court approval near the elections.
"However, in light of Puerto Rico’s current reality, the Oversight Board believes that the Government and the Oversight Board’s sole focus should be on getting Puerto Rico through this unfortunate crisis," the Board´s statement adds while indicating that the entity will continue to point out “actions that go against the prudent and sound fiscal policy in protecting the interest of the people of Puerto Rico.”
Last Thursday, El Nuevo Día reported that in the past few weeks, the Board had supported several government initiatives to deal with the pandemic, including the exemption of the Sales and Use Tax for certain food and health products, as well as the use of $160 million from the Emergency Reserve.
In an interview with El Nuevo Día, Board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko said that, in a way, Puerto Rico was ahead of other states in the emergency response, but regretted that those strategies that should have improved the health system had not been implemented earlier this term.
Jaresko also said during the interview that the process would continue in court and that the fiscal plan will be reviewed.
"Over the next few days, the Oversight Board will engage in collaborative discussions with the Government’s leadership to find reasonable and meaningful financial and policy solutions that ensure the safety and well-being of the Island. Working collaboratively with the Government, the Oversight Board will provide appropriate, much-needed support for those dislocated as a result of the COVID-19 situation and those that are not able to access eligible Federal support," the Board´s statement adds.