Puerto Rico suspends utility bill payment for federal workers due to shutdown

Puerto Rico suspends utility bill payment for federal workers due to shutdown
© Greg Nash

Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Thursday that he would be suspending the payment of water and power bills for federal employees on the island in an effort to ease the impact felt from the ongoing partial government shutdown.

The Associated Press reports that the territory's government-owned utility service will not require payment from federal employees until the shutdown comes to an end.

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"Given the reality that this closure of the federal government continues and that the impasse that has caused it does not show immediate signs of resolution, our administration has taken a series of measures to extend help to affected employees," Rosselló wrote in a statement.

Rosselló also said he was extending a halt in tax collections for federal workers by 90 days. He added that the employees will still be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Additional measures include free bus service to federal employees, and Rosselló said he is looking into having Puerto Rico's development bank offer workers low-interest loans.

There are more than 14,000 federal employees in Puerto Rico, with 4,500 of those impacted by the government shutdown.

The island territory is home to approximately 3.2 million U.S. citizens.

Puerto Rico and its inhabitants were ravaged by several hurricanes in the past two years with recovery still progressing, making the ongoing shutdown all the more impactful.