The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico announced Thursday the appointment of Natalie Jaresko, a renowned finance and economics expert, as its new executive director.
“We are thrilled that Jaresko is joining the team dedicated to helping Puerto Rico return to prosperity and financial health. She is a world-class professional for this world-class challenge, and her unique skillset and track record are perfectly suited for the unprecedented task that lies ahead,” said Oversight Board Chairman José Carrión.
As Minister of Finance of Ukraine (2014-16) Chicago-born Jaresko served at one of the most critical times in Ukraine’s history, when the post-revolutionary state was rocked by a foreign occupation and a deep recession.
During her tenure she led the successful negotiation and implementation of the largest International Monetary Fund program in the institution’s history, as well as a complex sovereign and sovereign guaranteed debt restructuring.
“Ukraine’s situation three years ago — like Puerto Rico’s today — was near catastrophic, but she worked with stakeholders to bring needed reforms that restored confidence, economic vitality and reinvestment in the country and its citizens,” Carrión said.
“That’s exactly what Puerto Rico needs today. We are confident she will make an immediate, significant and sustained contribution in our effort to keep Puerto Rico on the path to economic recovery,” Carrión added.
Her government’s success in restoring macroeconomic stability enabled the creation of a broad financial international financial coalition to support Ukraine’s transition to economic growth, the Oversight Board said in a release Thursday announcing her appointment.
The multi-year package of international support totaled $40 billion. She led the reduction of total public spending from 53 percent of GDP in 2014 to just over 44 percent in 2016, cutting the general government finance deficit by more than 75 percent to 2.1 percent of GDP in 2015.
She also moved the agenda forward to implement tax reform resulting in the reduction of the highest payroll tax in Europe by almost 50 percent, to eliminate tax privileges and preferences which skewed the economic system toward vested interests, to implement a transparent system of e-data which placed all transactions of the treasury online in real time, to broaden and deepen the investment resources available to the government for infrastructure and social spending, as well as to initiate corporate governance reform in the state-owned banking sector, along with other policy measures.
As a result of her government’s actions, the Ukrainian economy is seeing its first signs of recovery, including stabilization of the domestic currency, growth in banking system deposits, sharply reduced inflation, and the first growth in industrial production in some four years, the Oversight Board said.
Prior to this ministerial position, Jaresko was one of the co-founders and the CEO of Horizon Capital, a private equity fund manager with more than $600 million under management, having raised capital from U.S. and European limited partners on the basis of an investment track record of growth, profitability, transparency, good corporate governance, and strategic planning. She spent two decades investing in the region, serving on over a dozen corporate boards in the financial sector, manufacturing, telecom and agriculture.
Simultaneously, Jaresko served as president and CEO of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), creating a platform for private equity investment in the region.
Jaresko, an American citizen of Ukrainian descent, began her career in public service in the United States, serving in various positions at the State Department in Washington, D.C. from 1989-92, then as the Chief of the Economic Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine from 1992-95, where she was responsible for building a new economic relationship between the United States and newly-independent Ukraine.
Jaresko serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Aspen Institute Kyiv, a Distinguished Senior Nonresident Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and as a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council, and a member of the Advisory Council of Ukrainian Catholic University Business School.
Jaresko received her Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government in 1989. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois in 1987 and is a Certified Public Accountant.
The Presidents of Ukraine twice awarded Jaresko with the Order of Princess Olha in 2003 and 2016 for her contributions to Ukraine. As a first-generation American, Ukrainian immigrant parents in Chicago raised Jaresko.
“I have been given one job and one job only, and that is to work in support of the Oversight Board and the path they have laid out, alongside the government of Puerto Rico, to guarantee a decisive and successful recovery for Puerto Rico and its people,” she said.
“I realize this goal may seem daunting if not impossible to many, but I accepted this position because I am optimistic we can achieve it together,” said Jaresko.