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Saturday, 2 July 2016

Puerto Rico Defaults On $2 Billion In Debt Payments

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As expected, Puerto Rico will default on about $2 billion in debt payments Friday, including $780 million in constitutionally-backed general obligation bonds, as governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has issued an executive order authorizing the suspension of payments. In addition, Garcia Padilla also declared states of emergency at the island's biggest public pension - the Commonwealth's Employee Retirement System - which is more than 99% underfunded, as well as the University of Puerto Rico and other agencies Reuters reports. The default will mark the first time a US territory has failed to pay on its general obligation bonds.

"Under these circumstances, these executive orders protect the limited resources available to the agencies listed in these orders and prevents that these can be seized by creditors, leaving Puerto Ricans without basic services," Garcia Padilla's administration said in a statement.

The suspension of payments comes just as the Senate rushed a bill to President Obama that was signed on Thursday, and the bill will now allow Puerto Rico to access a bankruptcy-like debt restructuring process for its roughly $70 billion in debt. As Bloomberg explains, the next phase will now be for the US appointed control board to begin the restructuring negotiation process. The step allows Garcia Padilla to use cash that would otherwise go to investors to avert cuts to schools, policing and health care that Garcia Padilla said would extract a heavy toll on the island where nearly half of the 3.5 million residents live in poverty.

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