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diGging The Debt – External Debt

If you haven’t read it by now, Jamaica is racking up quite a bit of debt.  We, at diGJamaica.com, can’t tell you what the debt is being used to do specifically. The Government of Jamaica would need to tell us that.  But we can give you a general idea of where the money is coming from.

As at December 31, 2011 the Debt Management Unit of the Ministry of Finance reported US$8.6 Billion in External Debt owed by Jamaica to international lenders.  These lenders include Private Creditors, Multi-laterals and Bi-laterals.  Jamaica has been slowly reducing her debt to the international community since the end of 2011, and as at September 30, 2012, the External Debt now stands at just under US$8.2 Billion.  Let us look at the External Debt in totality:

The graph shows us how slight the change is relative to the overall debt burden. However, this fall is quite significant.  It represents a drop of 5% or over US$439Mln.  With a stable exchange rate, such a change would have presented quite a different picture. Unfortunately, the Jamaican Dollar has depreciated relative to the US Dollar by 3.8% between January and the end of September, eliminating (in Jamaican dollar terms) much of the decrease in the External Debt.  When the depreciation of the Jamaican Dollar is factored in the 5% drop in External Debt in US$ terms, becomes a mere 1.4% drop in J$ terms.

The graph also shows us that Private Creditors are the largest category of lender.  This category includes commercial banks, but the majority comes from the issuance of international bonds. These bonds form the largest part of Jamaica’s External Debt.

The next largest category is Multi-Lateral Lenders. These include the International Development Bank (IDB), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other lenders from around the world.  The IDB has been our biggest lender over the past 21 months, with the IBRD increasing their support over the same period.

The smallest category is Bi-Lateral Lenders. These include OECD and Non-OECD countries.  OECD countries include Australia, Israel, France, Germany, UK, USA and Japan and about 30 others.   The first thing one notices about the data set is the sharp drop in borrowing from Non-OECD countries in November 2011.  We do not yet know why this is so.

diGJamaica Research wants to know more about Jamaica’s economy and share what we diG up. What would YOU like to know?

Is Jamaica Really A Silent Democracy?

For this year’s observance of Human Rights Day on December 10, the United Nations has focused on the right of every human being to have their voice be heard in public life and political decision-making.

In Jamaica one would think that this right would be facilitated through the democratic process by which we select our government, elections. But elections in Jamaica are just one day, every four years. What happens to the other 1459 days? Is it that the public has nothing to say or that we are just going along for the ride docile silence?

Unless a referendum is called or a by-election is held, the voice of the masses is reduced to a whisper with the most vocal of us venting on the airwaves, in community taverns or more recently, facebook. You may say that yes, when the media opines about something or latches on to a controversy the political directorate takes note and sometimes action, but that is only when they have a mind.

The truth is that in this democratic state other than the magical date of a General or Local Government Election there is very little that the public can do to have their voices heard and reasonable action taken by leaders as a result.

Our nightly news is replete with protests from every corner of the nation by various persons, some crying for justice, some for basic commodities, some for just the listening ear of their Members of Parliament, but the one thing they all have in common is the innate human desire to be heard.

Jamaicans have protested, Jamaicans have marched, Jamaicans have even chained themselves together in Half-Way-Tree Square all to demand their right to be heard. So what about you? What would you do to have your voice be heard? How would you go about getting the leaders you have elected to listen to what you have to say? How far would you go to be heard?



Net International Reserves Down 4.8%

The NIR lost another 4.8% or US$54.6Mln in November as Jamaica’s reserves continued to dwindle as seen in the diGJamaica.com chart below:

This is the least amount of international savings we have had since January 2001. As you can generally see in the chart below, the NIR was below US$1mln from 1992 through sometime at the turn of the 21st century, with the exact month being February 2001. Throughout everything, Jamaica has sustained its NIR above US$1mln since then.

Chart above can be found at diGJamaica.com

Another indicator of relevance is the number of weeks of goods imports that the gross official reserves are able to purchase.  Although the NIR was negative for a time in 1992, there were still foreign assets left in reserve that could be used to import goods in case of an emergency (natural disaster).  By this indicator, the NIR is at its lowest since March 2009, when the country could only purchase 12.2 weeks of imported goods.  As of November 2012, Jamaica can still purchase 17.2 weeks of imported goods.


5 Things You Need To Know Today – December 10, 2012

  1. IMF Uncertainty Blamed For Rising Debt. Financial analyst Errol Gregory says the uncertainty surrounding the signing of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a possible reason for the increase in the country’s debt stock. Gregory, responding to a Sunday Gleaner report which pointed out that Jamaica has racked up $81.9 billion of additional debt during the period January to September 2012. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  2. I Stand By The Report, Says Munroe Ellis. Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis is seemingly undaunted by sharp criticisms of her department’s Information Systems Review Report by Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) officials. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  3. ‘Shun Gay Lifestyle’ – South African Pastor Warns Ja About Homosexual Lobby. A South African pastor on the weekend urged Jamaicans to become militant against acts of homosexuality, saying condoning such behaviours could lead to consequences of enormous proportions. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  4. St Andrew Gets More JPs. Several well-known St Andrew personalities were among the 100 persons added to the list of justices of the peace last Saturday night at Medallion Hall Hotel. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  5. I Wanted This For Jamaica 50, Says Walters – Featherweight First Boxer To Deliver WBA Crown On Local Soil. Nicholas ‘The Axeman’ Walters became the World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight boxing champion last Saturday night, in the main bout of a five-fight card promoted by SportsMax and approved by the WBA and the Jamaica Boxing Board of Control. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

5 Things You Need To Know Today – December 9, 2012

  1. Jamaica Racks Up $12.5 Million Per Hour In Debt. Data gathered from http://digjamaica.com has revealed the rate at which Jamaica has added debt per day, per hour, per minute.  Find out how many teachers could have been paid, ventilators could have been bought and homeless people could have been fed plus other information about the debt….[Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  2. Public Health Disaster Waiting To Happen.  Serious public health concerns have been raised about the absence of basic sanitary facilities in squatter settlements.  Dr.  Winston Davidson explains the risk to the nation…[Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  3. Parish Councils Refusing To Pay Light Bills In Full.  Even with streets and avenues in darkness, Parish Councils are withholding payments to JPS and collectively owe the company more than $2 Billion. The municipality with the highest arrears is… [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  4. New Airlift To Boost Tourist Arrivals.  Expected growth in arrivals is expected to come from countries like France and Columbia.  Challenges have included the US economy, Hurricane Sandy and…[Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  5. Gleaner Takes 12 PAJ Awards.  The most of any news organization, The Gleaner’s journalists were recognized for investigative journalism, children’s rights, photography, print, online and cartoons in the National Journalism Awards Banquet 2012 of the Press Association of Jamaica.  [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

5 Things You Need To Know Today – December 8, 2012

  1. Bribery Down, Extortion Up Among Police Officers. More members of the JCF are being arrested for extortion as the incidents of bribery decrease.  ACP Selvin Hay provided an update on anti-corruption strategies…. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  2. NTCS Awarded Interim Payment.  Although the Court of Appeal ruled that an interim payment of $370.4M is to be paid to NTCS, the money is not to be distributed as a stay of execution was granted to hold until the matter of the Government’s appeal about the $1.8B award has been decided….[Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  3. ECJ Says Aspects Of Auditor-General’s Report Flawed. Outgoing Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, Professor Errol Miller outlined to journalists the flaws in the report as well as what was described as the auditors’ inflexibility and unwillingness to listen…[Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  4. National Insurance Act To Be Amended.  The amendments include increasing the insurable wage contribution, increasing weekly contribution for domestic workers and…   [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  5. JPs Urged To Keep Standards High.  At the recent induction of new JPs, they were warned not to misuse their power or else face the full extent of the law…[Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

5 Things You Need To Know Today – December 7, 2012

  1. Consumers Urged To Take Advantage Of Sliding Dollar. If you are thinking about buying a car or making other big purchases, a leading financial analyst is advising that now is the best time to shop. Charles Ross, managing director of Sterling Asset Management, told The Gleaner yesterday that the continued slide in the value of the Jamaican dollar will push the cost of consumer items skywards resulting in higher prices to consumers. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  2. Private Sector Concerned About Dollar Slide. On Wednesday, the local currency sunk to its lowest value with more than J$92 required to Spurchase one US dollar. At the end of the day, the US dollar was being sold at an average J$92.05, but was being sold for as high as J$95 by some traders. One year ago the average rate was J$86.70. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com][See chart on diGJamaica.com]
  3. Appeal Court To Rule On NTCS Interim Payment Today. The Court of Appeal is today expected to rule if the government will have to make an interim payment to members of the National Transport Co-operative Society (NTCS). Lawyers representing the NTCS had applied to the court seeking an order for the government to pay 20 per cent or about $400 million of the $2 billion award. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  4. Blame Owners, Not Dogs – JSPCA Head Speaks Out Against Calls To Ban ‘Aggressive’ Canine Breeds. Pamela Lawson, managing director of the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA), is disagreeing with calls to ban certain dog breeds.The calls have come since the mauling of two-year-old Ronicka Gregory in St Catherine by a pit bull terrier. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  5. Blige, Legend, Bolton Confirmed For Jazz and Blues 2013. Mary J. Blige, John Legend and Michael Bolton are to perform at the the 17th staging of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, set for January 24 – 26, 2013[Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

Visit This Day In Our Past – December 7 to know what happened today in our past.

5 Things You Need To Know Today – December 6, 2012

  1. More Than $1bn Being Spent To House Gov’t At Private Premises. It is costing Jamaican taxpayers in excess of $1.1 billion annually to fund the rental of properties by ministries, departments and agencies. However, the sum to rent properties by the State is understated, as four government ministries have failed to submit their rental costs, this year, to the Public Sector Transformation Unit (PSTU). [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  2. Tivoli Report In Two Weeks. After missing a number of deadlines, it appears the long-awaited Tivoli report will be in the hands of lawmakers in the next two weeks. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Michael Peart, told The Gleaner yesterday that the report was complete but the document was being printed and collated. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  3. ‘Nuff Gal’ Culture Causing HIV. The ‘gallis’ (promiscuous male) culture is one of the many factors behind the spread of HIV in Clarendon, according to Georgina Daubon, a Southern Region Health Authority (SRHA) contact investigator. She also pointed out that the current HIV rate in the parish is in line with the national average, which is declining steadily. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  4. Negril In Environmental Trouble – Climate Change Minister Blames Encroachment.Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister Robert Pickersgill has said continuous erosion of sand from the beaches in Negril is threatening the economic life of the tourist town and has blamed human encroachment activities as the main contributor to the problem. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  5. Super Samuels! Batsman Hammers Masterful Century As Windies Cut Deficit. Stylish right-hander Marlon Samuels stroked his fifth one-day international (ODI) century as West Indies beat Bangladesh by four wickets yesterday to halt a two-game losing skid and haul themselves back into the five-match series. Samuels, short of runs in the ODI series, returned to his best when it mattered most, carving a superb 126 from 149 balls with 17 fours and two sixes. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

5 Things You Need To Know Today – December 5, 2012

  1. Jamaica Maintains Low Ranking In Corruption Report. Jamaica maintained its ranking as a country perceived to be suffering from corruption in the yearly Global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) rankings released by anti-corruption body Transparency International. The 2012 report ranked Jamaica at 86 out of 182 countries, matching the same ranking as last year and one less than 2010.  [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  2. Parenting Commission To Begin Operation By Early 2013.The Education Minister Ronald Thwaites says the National Parenting Commission begin operations by early next year. Thwaites told Parliament that the process of choosing someone to coordinate the Commission is still underway. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  3. Parliamentary Committee Rushes To Spend Millions On Christmas Work. More than $47 million worth of ‘Christmas work’ was yesterday approved by the Constituency Development Fund Committee of Parliament, which overlooked several concerns and signed off on the projects in time for the holidays.The committee approved 25 projects with a total value of $47.2 million, $35.3 million of which was aimed at providing ‘special employment’. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  4. Motorists To Pay For Air As Gasolene Margins Fall. President of the Jamaica Gasoline Retailers Association (JGRA) Derrick Thompson said Monday that retailers have seen a 20 per cent fall-off in sales in the last 12 months, resulting in increased competition among some 300 service stations to maintain returns. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  5. JBA Pushes For Inter-Governmental Agreement On FATCA. The Jamaica Bankers Association (JBA) is again urging the Government to push for an agreement with the United States to ease the costs faced by local financial institutions if they are to conform with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).[Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

5 Things You Need To Know Today – December 4, 2012

  1. Flash Flood Watch Extended For Eastern Parishes. A flash flood watch has been extended for low-lying and flood-prone areas of St. Ann, St. Mary, Portland, St. Thomas, Kingston and St. Andrew until 5 p.m. today. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  2. Civil Group Starts Online Petition For Tivoli Report.The Jamaica Civil Society Coalition has started an online petition to get the parliament to demand the long-awaited report of the Public Defender into the West Kingston operation of May 2010. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  3. Appeal Court To Rule On NTCS Partial Payout TomorrowThe Court of Appeal is to rule tomorrow if the members of the National Transport Co-operative Society (NTCS) are to get 20 per cent of the $2 billion which was awarded to them last September. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  4. Hundreds Of Weapons Seized At Schools. More than 600 weapons have been confiscated from students at educational institutions islandwide since the start of the year. Constable Ricardo McCalpin, a school resource officer with the Safe Schools Programme, claims the statistics are being collated for the first time. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  5. Signs Of A Fraudster. Several persons are pretending to work for the United Kingdom Border Agency, using the name of the agency to steal money from unsuspecting persons. UK attorney John Bassie outlines the signs of a scam artist. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
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