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Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, yesterday (Nov.13) informed that relative calm has returned to the local foreign exchange market.
“This week, you would have noticed, barring a little upward movement by a few cents or downward by a few cents, the dollar is stabilising and it is very important that I encourage all stakeholders to support this stability in the foreign exchange market,” Mr. Shaw said as he addressed the Jamaica U-Drive Association’s 39th annual general meeting and luncheon, at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.
He admonished those who would want to disrupt the market. “It does not help Jamaica now, for anyone to do anything to disturb the normal inflows and outflows of foreign exchange. There is no need for it, there is no basis for it, and I am urging that those who, for any selfish or greedy basis, would seek to be disruptive to the foreign exchange market, I am asking you, do not do it,” he appealed.
He noted that there is no shortage of foreign exchange in Jamaica “instead, what we have are those who have and are holding on to it, and those who don’t have and they need it.”
“So what we need is greater harmony and greater confidence from everyone, to just get back to business as usual, so that we can have our exchange rate remaining stable, so that it does not impact any further in terms of slippages, impact negatively on our food prices, impact negatively overall on the economy, that then impacts negatively on the budget,” Mr. Shaw stated.
He said that the market will benefit from greater inflows of foreign currency, as between September and November, foreign currency inflows are at its lowest. “In so doing, you will allow the market to function effectively,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister has noted that the banking sector has remained safe and stable, despite the global economic crisis.
“One of the reasons for that is that when we had the financial collapse of the 1990s, one of the good things that came out of it is that the banking and financial sector overall, had to become subject to a higher level of regulations. One of the things the Bank of Jamaica Governor has pointed out, is that the regulatory environment that was put in place about 10 years ago has assisted us in ensuring that the banking community is stable today,” Mr Shaw explained.
He also noted that the bad debt portfolio of the commercial banking system is at 2.8 per cent, well within the internationally accepted standard, which goes up as high as 10 per cent.
Mr. Shaw also informed that the country’s Net International Reserve (NIR) now stands at US$1.8 billion, and is just about the same as it was for December 2007.