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Government To Issue Some $3.8 Billion In Bonds In 2004

Money To Go Toward Refinancing Debt, Improvements To Roads & Housing, Forthcoming Convention Center, And More


August 28, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The government of Puerto Rico has issued bonds totaling $3.9 billion in this calendar year and plans to issue an additional $3.8 billion in fiscal 2004 (ends June 30, 2004), for a total $7.7 billion.

This year’s bond issues represent more than $1 billion in new money; the balance has been used to refinance public agencies’ debts. This represents a savings of more than $250 million.

One of the highlights has been that the $520 million bond issue of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) on Aug. 6 earned the agency a raise in its credit rating. Moody’s Investors Service boosted Prepa’s rating from "Baa1" to "A3."

"This is the first time in 20 years that this has happened, and it occurs when many utility companies’ ratings in the States have been downgraded," said Hector R. Rosario, Prepa’s executive director.

Although no more bond issues are scheduled for this year, the Government Development Bank (GDB) might issue other refinancing bonds if the interest rates are attractive. GDB President Hector Mendez said that in fiscal 2004’s first quarter there will only be a $150 million bond issue for the Puerto Rico Highway & Transportation Authority (HTA).

The money will be used to refinance the debt of the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge and to improve access roads to the bridge linking Isla Verde and Rio Piedras.

Two bond transactions are scheduled for the second quarter: a $110 million GDB dividend and a $43 million issue for the Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa).

Seven of the bonds will be issued in the third quarter and will total some $2.4 billion, with housing being the top priority. A $40 million government-obligation bond will be issued in the local market. There will also be a $600 million housing capital-grant financing and a $100 million bond to refinance the housing portfolio.

Other third-quarter bond issues include $800 million in Trans, which are temporary notes the government uses to cover operational costs, and $540 million in government-obligation bonds, which will be used to refinance public debt. The Puerto Rico Coliseum will have a $180 million bond issue and HTA will benefit from $100 million in Garvee bonds.

Four bond issues are scheduled for the fourth quarter. First up is a $390 million issue for the Infrastructure Financing Authority, in charge of financing water projects. The convention center will have a $350 million bond issue, while another bond issue will be used for the hotel at the convention center. There will also be a $50 million Qualified Zone Bond, to be used for modernizing schools.

The Port of the Americas will have a $350 million bond issue at a date still to be determined.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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