Legislators in Puerto Rico have started to debate a proposed $9.8 billion budget amid growing concerns about the U.S. territory’s economic crisis.
The island’s House of Representatives began holding its first public hearings on Saturday to discuss a budget that calls for $674 million in cuts.
Officials with Puerto Rico’s Treasury Department and the Government Development Bank are the first to testify. The hearings are expected to last at least two weeks, with officials from dozens of departments scheduled to testify.
Puerto Rico is in a nearly decade-long economic slump and faces $72 billion in public debt. The hearings began just hours after the governor signed a law raising the sales tax to 11.5 percent and created a new 4 percent tax on professional services to help generate revenue.