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Financial News

Nov 2009 Financial News

Standard and Poor's standing firm. Jamaicans overseas concerned over downgrading

Nov 04, 2009

NEW YORK, USA - Standard and Poor's (S&P), the international rating agency which on Monday downgraded Jamaica's credit worthiness, is standing by its assessment in the face of strong opposition by the Jamaican Government.

The analyst at the centre of the report, Roberto Sifon, told the Observer here yesterday that the agency's assessment was "accurate, factual and credible".

He insisted that the resignation of former Bank of Jamaica governor, Derick Latibeaudiere, was not the only factor on which Standard and Poor's based its assessment.

That factor seems to have angered the Government, with Finance Minister Audley Shaw asserting that it was unfortunate that Standard and Poor's did not seek to get further and better particulars from him in relation to their concerns about Latibeaudiere's departure.

Sifon said that given the fact that he was the person leading the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), his departure would have had a significant impact on what was happening.

However, he pointed to other factors such as amendment to the budget and the weakness of the country's fiscal structure "as some of the core areas which were examined and found to pose serious risks to debt repayment".

Declaring that he had no wish to get into a back and forth with the Jamaican Government, the S&P analyst said his agency also looked at what had taken place since August, the last time it issued a rating on Jamaica.

He said the agency acted on the facts as it related to happenings in the market, and on consultations with various private sector interests.

Meantime, the Jamaican community here is following the unfolding of events regarding the Standard and Poor's downgrading of the country's credit rating and the IMF negotiations with concern.

Patrick Beckford, head of the Jamaica Diaspora for the North Eastern United States, views the downgrading "as a potential threat to investment opportunities".

He noted that given the fact that this marked the second time in only three months that a downgrading had taken place, "it is time to be concerned".

Beckford urged dialogue between the Government and the agencies to arrive at a consensus on how the rating agencies deal with the country's monetary and fiscal problems.

HAROLD G BAILEY Observer writer
Jamaica Observer
Wednesday, November 04, 2009