The Caribbean Information and Credit Rating Services Limited (CariCRIS) officially opened its Jamaican office, during a virtual ceremony on Wednesday (April 28).
The office is the first to be established anywhere in the region outside the Trinidad and Tobago capital, Port-of-Spain, where the CariCRIS is headquartered, and comes 15 years after the firm commenced business relations with local clients.
It is situated on the PanJam Building in the heart of the New Kingston business district.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, who was the keynote speaker, said the office’s opening is critical and important in ensuring that information on investment opportunities consequent on reduced government borrowing from the capital and financial markets, among other channels, is available, particularly to retail investors.
He noted that in a number of instances, retail (small) investors being serviced by securities dealers, may be notified about potential investment opportunities for which they either have little information or are unable to readily access same.
“So [persons may respond] on how they are feeling and get information from the newspapers and advertisements on television… which is no way for a market to develop and function,” the Minister contended.
Against this background, Dr. Clarke said with CariCRIS operating out of Jamaica and incentives being provided for the issuers of investable instruments to become rated, “that investor can make choices on that basis,” adding that the information provided in that regard “will aid in market development and informed decision-making”.
Dr. Clarke said establishment of CariCRIS Jamaica is consistent with the Government’s thrust to create a domestic rating framework, “which is necessary for our own market… as we seek to encourage Jamaican-dollar bond issues and bring domestic assets to market”.
While acknowledging that global rating agencies offer national scale ratings and that issuers of investible instruments “can choose who they are rated by”, he noted that competition is welcome and contended that CariCRIS establishing an office in Jamaica “is a first mover”.
“Having been an important partner to many existing corporates in Jamaica, CariCRIS is particularly welcome. In building back better [and] stronger, our intention is for domestic businesses to have access to finance to grow in Jamaica, to grow in the region and, eventually, to become global firms,” he further said.
In his remarks, CariCRIS’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Wayne Dass, noted the “tremendous progress” by the Government over the past two years in modernising Jamaica’s financial sector legislation.
He noted that a key component of the revised risk-based regulations has been the increased use of independent credit ratings to lift transparency standards and drive proper price discovery in the financial markets.
“This has led to a material increase in the demand for CariCRIS’s credit rating services in Jamaica. To properly respond to this increased demand and ensure we maintain the same high level of service that our clients are accustomed to, we have decided that an onsite presence in Jamaica, by way of a small satellite office, would serve us and our clients best,” the CEO further noted.
Mr. Dass said notwithstanding the “raging” coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, “we think that the time is right now [to open the Jamaica office] and that we are indeed doing this for the right reasons”.