October 1, 2017 / 2:51 AM / a year ago

Puerto Rico oversight board asks Washington for more aid for island

(Reuters) - Members of the board in charge of resolving Puerto Rico’s debt crisis met this week with Trump administration officials and members of the U.S. Congress to ask for more financial assistance for the hurricane-struck island, the panel said on Saturday.

Carmen De Jesus uses a flashlight at the Moradas Las Teresas Elderly House, where about two hundred elderly people live without electricity following damages caused by Hurricane Maria in Carolina, Puerto Rico September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory that filed for the biggest-ever U.S. local government bankruptcy in May, was devastated when Hurricane Maria struck the Caribbean island 11 days ago, wiping out power, water and communications systems.

The Financial Oversight and Management Board, named in August to resolve the island’s debt and economic crisis, said in a statement that Puerto Rico needs money to address the immediate humanitarian crisis as well as rebuild its destroyed infrastructure.

In the meetings this week in Washington, board members asked for caps on individual aid programs to be lifted and local government cost-sharing requirements to be waived.

“Puerto Rico has been devastated by Hurricane Maria,” Jose Carrion, the board’s chairman, said in a statement. “In every meeting we had this week we were asked what more can be done.”

The board, consisting of four Republican and three Democratic members, added that it was postponing any discussion of furloughs and withdrawing a related lawsuit.

The panel sued Governor Ricardo Rossello in August, saying he had no authority to reject employee furloughs and pension cuts.

In the meetings, the board said it also requested that several federal agencies assign employees “to the board for the next several months to support Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts.”

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Reporting by Megan Davies in New York; Editing by Will Dunham

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