SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — – Puerto Rico's government is running out of money amid a decade-long economic crisis and now the bankrupt U.S. territory has agreed to a revenue cut — despite their desperate need for cash.
Puerto Rico's Highways and Transportation Authority has agreed to take a revenue cut amid a financial crisis to reach a $115 million deal with the company that manages the island's toll roads.
Spanish-based Abertis said in a statement Thursday that subsidiary Metropistas will manage the island's busiest toll road and others for 10 more years. In exchange, the transportation agency will reduce its percentage of revenue collections from 50 percent to 25 percent.
A government spokeswoman did not immediately return a message for comment.
Abertis said it will make an initial $100 million payment followed by $15 million by June 2017 at the latest.
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Puerto Rico is seeking to restructure $70 billion in public debt and congress seems increasingly unlikely to take action to help Puerto Rico ahead of a May 1 deadline for the commonwealth to default on a nearly half-billion-dollar debt payment.
The blown deadline could push Puerto Rico and its 3.5 million American citizens further into crisis, exacerbating a growing fiscal and humanitarian disaster that's been largely drowned out by the raucous political campaign season on the mainland.
A GOP-led House committee abruptly canceled a vote on a Puerto Rico debt restructuring bill when it was short of votes last week. The bill is still being rewritten, and as of yet the vote has not been rescheduled, Natural Resource Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said Tuesday.
"I'm not sure that on May 2 Armageddon takes place, but clearly I think it will illustrate that there is a significant problem," Bishop told reporters. "There are still some people out there saying there's not a problem... No, there is a problem, they will default on some portion."
Years of mounting fiscal problems are coming due on the island where residents are U.S. citizens but are barred from voting in presidential general elections. Tax policies written in Washington made matters worse in recent years by forcing investments and jobs out of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico already missed several smaller debt payments last year, but on May 1 another $422 million comes due followed by $780 million in general obligation bonds July 1.