Edward Krudy, Reuters, April 22, 2015
Puerto Rico’s top finance officials said the government of the U.S. territory will likely shutdown in three months because of a looming liquidity crisis and warned of a devastating impact on the island’s economy.
In a letter to leading lawmakers, including Governor Alejandro Padilla, the officials said a financing deal that could potentially salvage the government’s finances currently looked unlikely to succeed. It warned of laying off government employees and reducing public services
“A government shutdown is very probable in the next three months due to the absence of liquidity to operate,” the officials said. “The likelihood of completing a market transaction to finance the government’s operations and keep the government open is currently remote.”
Puerto Rico, which has a total debt of more than $70 billion, is trying to raise $2.95 billion in financing, while pushing through unpopular tax reforms such as a higher value-added tax and increasing a levy on crude oil to help pay for it.
Puerto Rico is largely reliant on hedge funds for its financing needs. Those hedge funds have been pushing the government to carry out tax reforms to improve its fiscal position as a condition for providing extra financing.