Puerto Rico's government revenue jumps in December

Reuters

Jan 9 (Reuters) - Puerto Rico is getting a lift from new taxes and posted a 26 percent rise in revenue last month to $913 million, a record high for any December, the financially pressed Caribbean island's treasury secretary said Thursday.

Revenue last month increased $190 million from December 2012 and topped initial estimates by $1.3 million, Treasury Secretary Melba Acosta Febo said in a news release.

Puerto Rico, whose chronic budget deficits worry bond buyers who demand it pay the highest interest rates of any big municipal debt issuer, also reported an overall 15 percent revenue rise of $525 million since June over the same six months a year earlier.

Corporate income tax in December totaled $316 million, or more than double year-earlier collections before the government increased various taxes, Acosta Febo said.

Revenue in December from a sales and use tax totaled $107.7 million, the highest amount since the tax was put in place in 2006. That marked an increase of $7.9 million, or 7.9 percent higher compared to a year earlier.

With $70 billion of outstanding tax-free debt, Puerto Rico is weighing a new bond offering in coming weeks even as U.S. credit agencies consider cutting the island's debt rating to junk, according to finance officials.

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