JIS News

Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says there is almost a 100 per cent take up by bondholders in the National Debt Exchange (NDX).

He said that while the Ministry has not finished tallying the numbers, indications are that “we have met the bar and the target”, in regard to the NDX prior action, as stipulated in the staff-level agreement reached with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Minister was addressing the Social Development Commission’s (SDC) Parish Forum, held at the St. Mary High School on Thursday, February 21.                                                                                     

Under the NDX, Government bond holders are being asked to exchange their existing bonds for bonds with longer maturities and at lower interest rates. The principal will not be affected.

Dr. Phillips hailed the commitment and patriotism of the participants, and noted that discussions are also going well between the Finance Ministry and the unions representing public sector employees. He thanked the workers for their sacrifice and demonstrated patriotism. 

Addressing the intention to use $11 billion annually, for four years, from the National Housing Trust (NHT), to assist in the economic programme, Dr. Phillips emphasized that the Government will not do anything to impair the operations of the agency. He noted that if the money did not come from the NHT, it would have had to come from somewhere else.

He stated that in light of a possible legal challenge to prevent the Government’s use of the NHT’s funds, the Cabinet is prepared to take the necessary legislative action to make it happen. The Minister said the Government will not have the programme derailed, as there is too much at stake for the development of the country.

Dr. Phillips also explained to the St. Mary residents, that as part of the IMF agreement the country needs to cut its debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio down to 95 per cent by 2020. He reiterated the need for the revenue enhancement measures announced, which will be effective as of April 1.