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If Congress doesn't act soon, we'll need a bailout: Puerto Rico governor

Michelle Fox
If Congress doesn't act soon, we'll need a bailout: Puerto Rico governor

Congress needs to restructure Puerto Rico's debt, otherwise the U.S. territory will need a bailout, Puerto Rico governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said Friday.

The island's government announced earlier this week it would skip a $422 million debt payment. It owes another $1.9 billion on July 1.

"It's not an issue of politics. It's not even an issue of policy. It's a mathematical issue. We do not have the money. It's as simple as that," Padilla said in an interview with CNBC's " Power Lunch ."

The government is $72 billion in debt and has a staggering 45-percent poverty rate. Legislation that would restructure the debt is currently in a congressional committee.

"If Congress acts today it will cost $0 to U.S. taxpayers. If Congress does not act, then we will need a bailout," Padilla said. "It will be very expensive to U.S. taxpayers."

The governor defended himself against critics who believe Puerto Rico should do more to fix its fiscal problems, noting that he has reduced the government by 24 percent and has taken expenditures back to where Puerto Rico was 11 years ago. He said he has also reduced the number of public employees from 105,000 to 89,000.

"Anyone that claimed that we haven't been able to reduce government size is just wrong," he insisted.

However, "If I stop providing essential services on the island, then the economy will go further, deeper into the hole where I found it and I will have less to pay after."

— Reuters contributed to this report.

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