(Recasts with public announcement of meeting; adds background on the board’s role and Puerto Rico’s economic crisis)
By Nick Brown
NEW YORK, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Puerto Rico’s newly created federal oversight board, charged with helping the U.S. commonwealth navigate through a crushing $70 billion debt burden, announced it will hold its first meeting in New York City on Sept. 30.
The seven-member board, created by the U.S. Congress in part to stave off a massive default and help the Puerto Rican government renegotiate its debt obligations, is scheduled to meet at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT), when it will elect a chairperson, the board said in a statement on Friday.
The board also said it will formally request from Puerto Rico’s governor the submission of a fiscal turnaround plan, which is a key requirement of the federal Puerto Rico rescue law that created the board, known as PROMESA.
The turnaround plan must ultimately be approved by the board, which has broad powers to approve the island’s budgets and facilitate debt restructuring talks.
The board is comprised of four Republicans, including former Puerto Rico Government Development Bank Chairman Carlos Garcia and bankruptcy expert David Skeel, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School; and three Democrats, including former New York bankruptcy judge Arthur Gonzalez.
The scheduling of the meeting comes on the heels of a briefing on Thursday in Washington with U.S. Treasury Department officials, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The board was given an overview of Puerto Rico’s economic situation, the person said.
In its statement on Friday, the board said it expects to hold another meeting in mid-October and another in mid-November in Puerto Rico.
Along with its $70 billion in debt, Puerto Rico is struggling with a 45 percent poverty rate, nearly insolvent pensions and healthcare systems, and a dwindling population as locals flock to the contiguous United States. (Reporting by Nick Brown; Writing by Daniel Bases; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler)