Report: Maria had $43B impact on Puerto Rico’s economy

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A report from Puerto Rico’s government says Hurricane Maria had a $43 billion impact on the U.S. territory’s economy, $1 billion more than originally estimated.

The Puerto Rico Planning Board’s report says its calculations took into account millions of dollars received so far in federal hurricane recovery funds and insurance money.

Overall, the board found that the capital of San Juan was among the six most affected cities on the island after the Category 4 storm hit in September 2017, causing more than an estimated $100 billion in damage.

“Given the magnitude of the natural disaster, the economic sectors will keep feeling the impact for an undetermined amount of time,” the report says.

The board said it came up with the $43 billion figure in part via questionnaires issued to the public and private sectors as well as statistics provided by professional associations through October.

Puerto Rico economist Jose Caraballo said in a phone interview Monday that federal aid and insurance payouts so far have covered only 24 per cent of the losses reported.

“A lot remains to be done,” he said. “The economic impact of the reconstruction has not been felt.”

The government said losses for the private sector alone totalled $30 billion, with manufacturing reporting the highest loss of income and agriculture among the highest damage to infrastructure and equipment.

The report comes as Puerto Rico struggles to emerge from a 12-year-old recession and tries to restructure a portion of its more than $70 billion public debt.

As the economic crisis continues, Puerto Rico’s governor and a federal control board overseeing the island’s finances continue to clash.

On Monday, the board accused Gov. Ricardo Rossello of signing three executive orders related to increasing employee compensation or benefits without its approval. It also said Rossello has enacted nearly 100 laws without following required protocol. The board warned it would take unspecified action if the governor does not submit the required documents.

A spokesman for the governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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