"With this state of emergency declaration, [I] suspend any obligations toward funding certain financial obligations and will authorize the implementation of extraordinary measures needed to guarantee the continuation of essential community services for [Puerto Rican] citizens," Padilla stated in the statement.
The move is intended to ensure the safety of the Puerto Rico’s roads by allowing redirecting toll collections to construction projects rather than paying down the ACT’s $2.2 billion debt, the statement explained.
Furthermore, the order imposes a stay on lawsuits by bondholders, the governor noted.
Padilla also reiterated a call to the US Congress to take immediate action to allow for the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debt.
Puerto Rico first defaulted on its $73 billion debt in August 2015, and defaulted again on May 11 when it missed a $422 million payment. The US territory has been beset by financial problems that affect healthcare and other services as well as economic growth.