It's been nearly five months since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, and yet more than 20 percent of the island is still without power, hundreds of thousands of residents have left for the mainland and the bankrupt U.S. territory doesn't have a fiscal plan in place to help it emerge from financial distress.
However, the governor of Puerto Rico said Thursday the commonwealth is just weeks away from disclosing its 2015 audited financial statements and a few days away from getting its proposed fiscal plan certified. Gov. Ricardo Rossello also said he has received 19 proposals from companies, including Tesla and Sonnen, for energy projects to transform the antiquated energy grid that was decimated by the storm.
Rossello, who was delivering the keynote at the Financial Times' "Puerto Rico: Pathway to the Future" forum on Thursday, said he planned to meet with the Oversight Board later in the day to finalize the commonwealth's revised fiscal plan he submitted on Monday.
In an interview with CNBC, Rossello said he hopes to have it certified in the "next couple of days."
"This fiscal plan is much different than the first one," Rossello said. "It's not driven by austerity measures. It's driven by structural changes and structural reforms."
The proposal for the revised fiscal plan, which includes the injection of nearly $17 billion of federal funds from the U.S. government's bipartisan budget bill, covers a six-year period and projects a budget surplus, which could open the door to resuming debt service payments in coming years.
Due to the federal funds, the commonwealth estimates it could pay approximately $19.1 billion to creditors, over a 30-year term, at a 4.5 percent interest rate. The prior draft of the revised plan allotted nothing for the island's bondholders over the next five years.
While the price of many of the island's bonds rallied on the new proposal, several creditor groups that collectively own what they describe as a "substantial portion of Puerto Rico's outstanding debt," united together to ask the Oversight Board to reconsider the "flawed plan."
In their opinion, it fails to meet the key principles of the 2016 law that set forth the terms for restructuring the island's debt: "Achieve fiscal responsibility and restore access to capital markets."
"The Plan fails to provide a credible basis on which to restructure the island's debt, while completely lacking a foundation for revitalizing the local economy and restoring access to the capital markets," the creditors said in a statement Wednesday.
The creditors include two bondholder groups that are currently battling in court over who has the first right to Puerto Rico's revenue. The insurers MBIA, Assured Guaranty and Ambac are also among those who are against the proposed fiscal plan.
Despite the backlash from bondholders, Rossello said there is a plan for Puerto Rico to regain access to capital markets. However, certain milestones need to be met first, starting with getting a financial plan certified and then "tackling the Title III component." Title III is a process, similar to Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceedings, that is allowing the island to restructure its debt.
"I think once there is clarity in the process and once some of these milestones are met, then we can see the path forward as to when and where we can get access to the markets," Rossello said.