Jamaica's Parliamentary Opposition is demanding answers from Dr. Peter Phillips, Minister of Finance, regarding reports that his ministry has been forced to return to some of the larger institutions involved in last month's National Debt Exchange (NDX).
Reports emerged Tuesday that the Government had engaged about eight financial entities for assistance to fill a J$10-billion shortfall after the close of the extended deadline for the NDX offer. The transaction, labelled a Private Exchange Offer, was reportedly finalised last Friday. It involved the exchange of a number of Government of Jamaica bonds for new instruments with different tenures.
Audley Shaw, Opposition Spokesman on Finance, on Tuesday night expressed concern that the country had been left in the dark regarding the transaction. Mr. Shaw said he sought details in Parliament Tuesday from Minister with responsibility for the Public Sector, Horace Dalley, but none was forthcoming.
“He did not even attempt to answer me except to say all was well. Now that is unacceptable. This is why there is this atmosphere of loss of confidence; that the vessel of Jamaica is drifting without any leadership; it’s like a helmless vessel, drifting in the ocean. That is what we have now - total confusion. And in all of this the dollar continues to slide by the day,” lamented Mr. Shaw in an interview with RJR News.
Dr. Phillips and Bank of Jamaica Governor, Brian Wynter, are scheduled to attend Wednesday morning's weekly post Cabinet media briefing during which information on the private exchange offer is expected.
In the meantime, Mr. Shaw has declared it is time for the Minister of Finance to abandon hope that the IMF could still consider Jamaica's economic programme this month.
“There’s no question in my mind that there will be an agreement by this end of month: that’s this week end. There will be no IMF agreement by the end of this week. And so where’s the confidence, where are the confidence building tools? They just don’t exist right now. And the Minister’s absence from Parliament today (Tuesday) is rather telling, having regard to the very important issues that arise,” asserted Mr. Shaw.
In an interview with RJR News last weekend the Minister of Finance said he was still expecting IMF deal this month.