US investment firm lauds Jamaica's economic programme

Saturday, January 28, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The positive results being recorded under Jamaica’s economic reform programme have been hailed by United States (US)-based investment and securities firm, Jefferies LLC.
Managing director of the entity, Gregory Fisher, in noting the achievements under the programme, including the fall in the inflation rate to a 64-year low, said “we now have a country that has finally grown past the ills of austerity and is now in (transition to) full recovery.”
He was speaking at the opening ceremony for the 12th Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) Regional Investments and Capital Markets Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Tuesday.  
Fisher noted that 2016 was a “stellar” year for Jamaica, particularly for bondholders who, he said, benefitted from dividends on their investments totalling 14.3 per cent. This is based on index data provided by US firm, JP Morgan.
He said investors were also comforted by the policy anchor provided by the extended fund facility (EFF) arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was reinforced by the negotiation of a standby successor agreement to replace the EFF.
Fisher described the successor agreement, which was approved by the IMF Board last November, as a “job well done.”
“Additionally, rating agencies responded by upgrading Jamaica and, for the first time in history, Jamaica’s credit (rating) at the end of the year (2016) was higher than Barbados. A few years ago, I think that would be very difficult to even imagine, to say the least,” he added.
Fisher pointed out that while Jamaica’s strong performance came against the background of an overall bullish capital market performance, much of the remaining Caribbean countries were still languishing.
These, he indicated, included: Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda and Trinidad and Tobago, which, he noted, were downgraded. 
He said that the Dominican Republic was upgraded but “it underperformed in the markets significantly.”
Additionally, Fisher said Jamaica’s performance generated positive feedback from rating agency, Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC.
Fisher said Standard & Poor’s has indicated that it may raise the rating over the next year if Jamaica achieves sustained improvement in its external liquidity and indebtedness along with a growing track record of sustainable public finances.
He further cited a recent article in the New York Times that ranked Kingston among the top 52 best places to visit in 2017, noting that this is major accolade.
The Jefferies LLC managing director urged Prime Minister Andrew Holness, to maintain the economic programmes being undertaken “so that your beloved country can finally reach its full potential under your esteemed leadership.” 
“The wind is at your back and your sails are full,” he said. 
Holness, who delivered the keynote address at the function, welcomed the positive feedback from Fisher. He said it is imperative for Jamaica to get its economic affairs “in order” and assured that “that’s what we have been doing, as a Government.”
 The three-day JSE conference, which concluded on Thursday, was held under the theme: ‘Global Investment Horizon: Our Options and Our Future’.


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