CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Puerto Rico threatened with transit shutdown in political spat

jueves 27 de noviembre de 2014 00:37 GYT
 

(Corrects third paragraph from bottom to state that planned oil tax increase was by $6.25, not from $6.25)

By Edward Krudy

Nov 26 (Reuters) - Puerto Rico's public transit system will shut down on Monday if lawmakers do not increase a tax on oil, the U.S. commonwealth's Government Development Bank said, accusing politicians of taking an "irresponsible" gamble on the island's economy.

The possible shutdown of Puerto Rico's buses and commuter train services, affecting 75,000 commuters, would be a major escalation of the island's debt crisis and would threaten its fragile economy.

It would come as a further blow to residents already facing budget cuts and paying among the highest electricity costs in the United States.

The move is scheduled to come when citizens return from their Thanksgiving break and ramps up the pressure on politicians to resolve their wrangling over the tax hike, which was to back a loan for its highways authority.

"It is irresponsible to continue playing with (Puerto Rico's) economic and fiscal stability," the GDB said in a statement. "The immediate consequences of these actions are already evident: public employees out of work and citizens on foot in the height of the holiday season."

Puerto Rico is struggling with a debt load of more than $70 billion and an economy that has been in or near recession for eight years. The latest data showed economic activity continued to slide last month and is the lowest in 20 years.

Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has been unable to convince enough members of his party to back a 68 percent increase to a tax on crude oil, which was expected to be passed last week. He convened a special session of the legislature on Monday, but lawmakers called a recess until Dec. 1.   Continuación...