Friday, April 10, 2020 Kingston, Jamaica
Fitch Rating Agency, today, April 10, 2020, revised Jamaica's outlook to "Stable" from "Positive", while affirming its Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at B+.
The Rating Agency indicated that the revised outlook reflected the shock to Jamaica from the on-going global Corona Virus (Covid-19) health crisis. Fitch indicated that due to the pandemic, the country will experience a sharp contraction in its main sources of foreign currency revenues: tourism, remittances and alumina exports. The Rating Agency forecasts that the gains made in keeping the Government's debt/GDP on a downward trend will be disrupted. Fitch expects the economy to contract by 4.0% in 2020, but, will recover in 2021 with estimated growth of 2.0%.
Fitch highlighted that Jamaica had other mitigating factors to help cushion the impact on the economy. These include "a balanced budget in FY19/20, 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".
Dr. the Honourable Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, in commenting on the rating action 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 of Jamaica has responded by cushioning the impact of the COVID-19 fallout by implementing a $10.0 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.
For further information contact:
Debt Management Branch
Ministry of Finance and Planning
30 National Heroes Circle
Tel: (876) 932-5419
Contact: Cheryl Smith