Fitch revises Jamaica's outlook to stable, affirms B+ rating

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Fitch revises Jamaica's outlook to stable, affirms B+ rating

Friday, April 10, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— Fitch Rating Agency, today, revised Jamaica's outlook to 'stable' from 'positive', while affirming its Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at B+.

The credit rating agency indicated that the revised outlook reflected the shock to Jamaica from the on-going global COVID-19 health crisis.

Fitch noted that due to the pandemic, the country is expected to experience a sharp decline in its main sources of foreign currency revenues: tourism, remittances and alumina exports.

This, the agency said, would also disrupt the gains made in keeping the Government's debt/Gross Domestic Product on a downward trend. The economy is expected to contract by 4.0 per cent in 2020, but, should recover in 2021 with estimated growth of 2.0 per cent.

Fitch highlighted that Jamaica had other mitigating factors that will help cushion the impact on the economy.

These include “a balanced budget in the Fiscal Year 19/20, liquid local sources of financing, a reasonable foreign reserve position, strong relations with International Financial Institutions and a benign debt amortization profile for the next couple of years.”

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, said “the COVID-19 pandemic will deliver a massive economic shock to Jamaica. In that context, Fitch's decision to maintain Jamaica's credit rating at B+, when many sovereigns' credit ratings are being downgraded globally, says something about Jamaica's economic resilience. This is a challenging time for our economy, however, Jamaica has options that many countries do not have.”

The Government said it has responded to the potential economic shook by cushioning the impact of the COVID-19 fallout through the implementation a $10 billion spending stimulus under the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme.

The CARE programme is a temporary cash transfer programme aimed at cushioning the economic impact of COVID-19, for small and micro businesses and individuals, particularly those most vulnerable.


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