Janina Lim – Fourth Estate Contributor
San Juan, Puerto Rico (4E) – Extending aid to millions of hurricane-stricken families while running without a source of revenue, the government of Puerto Rico is threatened to a “total shutdown” next month which will also put a stop to aid provision.
“I don’t have any collections, and we are spending a lot of money providing direct assistance for the emergency,” Treasury Secretary Raul Maldonado was quoted.
“Without the assistance from Congress, Puerto Rico’s government will not be able to operate next month.”
The US commonwealth is making ends meet with the $1.6 billion it had before Hurricane Maria cut paths of destruction in the island.
Such ravage inflicted on the bankrupt government may not enable Puerto Rico to collect taxes for at least another month, according to Maldonado who requested from Congress some $6 billion to $8 billion in aid to keep the government running for “a few months.
But if Congress does not extend financing, the treasurer said the island is facing a “total shutdown” on Nov. 1 which will halt the ongoing distribution and services aid.
“Essentially you’re looking at zero revenue for the next couple of months,” Governor Ricardo Rossello said.
“While you have zero revenue, you still have expenditures, plus emergency expenditures. That means the money is going to run out very quickly.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate is ready to help while Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House minority leader, suggested that the Treasury Department provide a loan to assist Puerto Rico in its recovery in the short term.
Puerto Rico’s control board which oversees the island’s finances said Hurricane Maria may have resulted to $95 billion in damages which surpasses the commonwealth’s annual gross domestic product.
The federally appointed board requested for immediate aid Tuesday while seeking that the loans to be extened be at low interest-rates and that cost-sharing limits, disaster spending caps and grants be waived for long-term relief.
“Failure to provide the greatest amount of federal aid and the emergency liquidity program will be potentially ruinous,” chairman Jose Carrion said.
“We must do all that we can to help Puerto Rico avert a tragedy of historic proportions.”
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