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What is Trump's plan for Puerto Rico?

By Natalie Sherman Business reporter, New York

  • President Donald Trump has been bellyaching about Puerto Rico's parlous finances, as the US territory struggles to regain its footing after Hurricane Maria.

His focus on the Caribbean island's more than $70bn (£53bn) debt mountain has renewed questions about how it is to be solved.

So what's the plan for Puerto Rico?

The Puerto Rican government can't borrow money on the private market to rebuild due to the debt problems.

Hurricane Maria, which brought economic activity to a halt, has also created an immediate fiscal crisis: the government is running out of money.

Congress has just approved more than $36bn in disaster funding, including a $4.9bn loan to keep Puerto Rico operating.

But the remainder will be divided up among all areas affected in recent storms, including Texas and Florida.

Lawmakers in Congress have said they will consider additional funds for more long-term building efforts, but it's not clear how much that might be.

Moody's Analytics estimates property damage from Hurricane Maria could reach as high as $55bn, with total losses hitting $95bn.

Governor Ricardo Rossello has said the island of 3.4 million people, many of whom live in poverty, faces an "exodus" without a strong aid package.

Already Puerto Rico's population has plunged by more than 10% since 2006 amid a years-long recession precipitated in part by the end to tax benefits for manufacturers on the island.

Tim Holler