WASHINGTON - The White House on Wednesday announced the members of a new oversight board to help manage Puerto Rico's debt-stricken economy, with President Barack Obama expressing confidence that the panel could turn around a dire financial situation.
Legislation passed in June set up the seven-member control board and required the White House to choose from a list recommended by Republican and Democratic congressional leaders by September. Similar to a board that oversaw the District of Columbia in the late 1990s, the panel will oversee negotiations with creditors and the courts over reducing some of Puerto Rico's roughly $70 billion debt. It will also oversee the U.S. territory's development of a fiscal plan to bring the island out of its financial woes.
In a statement, Obama said those appointed to the board have a broad range of experiences and the depth of knowledge needed to tackle the challenge of righting Puerto Rico's embattled economy. Four of the members of the board are of Puerto Rican descent.
"The task ahead for Puerto Rico is not an easy one, but I am confident Puerto Rico is up to the challenge of stabilizing the fiscal situation, restoring growth and building a better future for all Puerto Ricans,'' Obama said.
According to the White House, members of the board are Carlos Garcia, founder and CEO of private equity firm Bay Boston and a former CEO of Puerto Rico's Government Development Bank; Ana Matosantos, a former director of the California Department of Finance; Jose Ramon Gonzalez, president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York; Andrew Biggs, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; University of Pennsylvania law professor David Skeel; former bankruptcy judge Arthur Gonzalez; and Puerto Rico insurance executive Jose B. Carrion.
The governor of Puerto Rico will be an eighth, nonvoting member of the board. The board must elect a chair, hire staff and open an office within 30 days.