Puerto Rico looks to boost excise tax on oil to help boost bond sales, ease fiscal situation

Industrials Associated Press

Puerto Rico government officials are looking to a 68 percent increase in an oil tax to help sell up to $2.9 billion in bonds and strengthen one of the island's largest public corporations amid bankruptcy concerns.

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Officials said Thursday that the move also would help boost cash reserves at the Government Development Bank and allow for refinancing at least $1 billion in loans made to Puerto Rico's Highway and Transportation Authority.

Legislators filed a bill calling for raising the excise tax on a barrel of crude oil from $9.25 to $15.50, to generate $178 million a year. The measure also would allow the loan to be transferred to Puerto Rico's Infrastructure Financing Authority.

Bank treasurer Richard Barrios said the government would access the market by March 31.