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Jamaica Records Most Successful Winter Tourist Season Published: 18 April 2019

 

  • The 2018/19 Winter Tourist Season has emerged as Jamaica’s most successful based on earnings and visitor arrivals, as highlighted by Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett.
  • He noted that over the last three months of the season, which commenced on December 15, the industry welcomed nearly 800,000 stopover visitors while generating more than $1Bn in earnings.
  • Bartlett added that 121,000 persons directly employed in the sector, and another 375 who work indirectly, benefited from this out-turn.

(Source: JIS)

Unemployment Rate Declines in January 2019 Published: 18 April 2019

  • Jamaica’s unemployment rate declined to 8.0% in January 2019, relative to the 9.6% recorded in January 2018.  This improvement in the unemployment rate occurred in spite of the 1.2% reduction in the number of persons classified as being ‘Outside the Labour Force’.
  • There was a 2.4% increase in the number of participants classified in the ‘employed labor force’, and the number of female entrants (3.5%) more than doubled the number of males (1.4%) joining the labor force.
  • Furthermore, the unemployment rate for youth (14-24 years) declined to 21.8% in January 2019 compared to 23.7% in January 2018.
  • STATIN’s survey indicates that at end-January 2019, there were 1,340,200 persons in the Labour Force, an increase of 8,400 (0.71%) when compared to 1,331,800 registered in January 2018.

(Source: STATIN)

The IMF believes taxes on tourism in Barbados are necessary Published: 18 April 2019

  • Van Selm, the person leading the IMF mission to Barbados, commented on the recent tax measures imposed on the tourism sector, telling Barbados TODAY he agreed with Government that they were necessary.
  • In addition to a range of levies on hotel room rates depending on the accommodation type, and a subsequent increase in those rates, the hotel sector is in line to pay an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) from 7.5% to 10%, as of January next year.
  • As a result of the four-year, US$290 million IMF-funded programme, travelers leaving Barbados on international trips have also been slapped with a new US$70 departure tax, while those traveling regionally pay US$35.
  • Van Selm noted that a country should not have its main industry “contributing next to nothing to tax credit”.

(Source: Barbados Today)

The Bahamas: Staff Concluding Statement of the 2019 Article IV Mission Published: 18 April 2019

  • Growth in 2018 was backed by buoyant tourism and construction activity. Real GDP is estimated to have grown by 2.3 percent in 2018, and growth is projected to steady at 2.1 percent in 2019, underpinned by continued growth in the tourism sector.
  • The medium-term outlook is positive, but risk factors such as slowdown in the U.S. and other economies, reputational risk in the offshore sector and vulnerability to hurricanes could weigh on growth.
  • The effective implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility Law (FRL) will bolster policy credibility and ensure durable gains from fiscal consolidation.
  • In the near term, however, there is a need for expenditure restraint to deliver the FY2018/19 target. 

 (Source: IMF)

U.S., China Aim for Early-May Announcement on Trade Deal Published: 18 April 2019

  • Senior U.S. and Chinese officials are scheduling more face-to-face trade talks in an effort to reach a deal by early-May that President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping could sign later that month, two people familiar with the plans said.
  • In an indication the Trump administration is making concessions needed to reach a deal, Mnuchin said that the pact will have “real enforcement on both sides.” That would mean the U.S. -- not just China -- could be hit with penalties if it fails to live up to its commitments.
  • Bloomberg News reported Monday that China is considering a U.S. request to shift some of its retaliatory tariffs from key agricultural products to other American exports.

(Source: Bloomberg)

The World's Most Miserable Economy Has Seven-Figure Inflation Published: 18 April 2019

  • Inflation that’s projected to reach an eyeball-popping 8 million percent this year has left Venezuela saddled with the title of the world’s most miserable economy.
  • The embattled South American nation topped the rankings of Bloomberg’s Misery Index, which sums inflation and unemployment outlooks for 62 economies, for the fifth straight year.
  • Venezuela and a handful of others in the “most miserable” camp are in a lonely battle fighting high inflation alongside lofty jobless rates.
  • Most other countries’ policymakers this year face a very different challenge: a tricky combination of quiet inflation and lower unemployment that complicates readings on economic health and appropriate responses.

(Source: Bloomberg)

JP and Wisynco Inks New Partnership Published: 17 April 2019

  • Jamaica Producers Group Limited announced that it has entered into an agreement with Wisynco Group Limited to transfer 30% of the shares in its subsidiary JP Snacks Caribbean Limited. JP Snacks Caribbean Limited is a holding company that will own the “JP St. Mary’s” brand and JP’s tropical snack manufacturing operations. JP will hold the remaining 70 % percent of JP Snacks.
  • The goal of the partnership is to bring to consumers a wide range of innovative Caribbean snacks and tropical foods. WISYNCO will bring to the partnership, their expertise in marketing, manufacturing and its distribution network. The transaction values JP Snacks at J$2.4Bn and sees WISYNCO investing J$720Mn for a 30 percent interest.
  • Jamaica Producers Group will seek to strengthen distribution in existing markets in the USA, Canada, the Caribbean, the UK, and Central America, in addition to seeking new markets.

(Source: Release to the JSE)

Mayberry Jamaican Equities Limited (MJEL) records losses for Q1 Published: 17 April 2019

  • For the three-month period ended March 31, 2019, Mayberry Jamaican Equities reported an unaudited net loss of $157.8Mn (EPS: -$0.13) which represents a considerable loss relative to the $157.2Mn profit recorded in the corresponding period of 2018.
  • The primary contributor to the outcome over the period was a loss experienced in Net Interest Income and Other Revenues, which moved from $235.11Mn in 2018 to -$43.32Mn in 2019.  In particular, this was caused by a significant unrealized loss on investment revaluation of $71.8Mn for the period, down from a $176Mn gain recorded one year prior.
  • There was also a significant increase in operating expenses, which was up 31.6% year-on-year to $116.1Mn. 
  • The stock has fallen 5.40% since the start of the calendar year, closing yesterday’s trading session at $8.76 per share.  At this price MJEL currently trades at a P/B of 0.64x earnings which is below the Main Market Financial Sector average of 1.98x.

(Source: MJE Financial Statements)

Moody's assigns a Ba3 rating to Trinidad Holdings and its proposed notes and term loan Published: 17 April 2019

  • Moody's Investors Service (Moody's) assigned a Ba3 Corporate Family Rating (CFR) and a b2 Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) to Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Limited (Trinidad Holdings).
  • Simultaneously, Moody's assigned a Ba3 rating to Trinidad Holding's proposed up to $425 million in guaranteed senior secured notes and a Ba3 rating to the company's proposed senior secured term loan.
  • Both the proposed notes and term loan will be guaranteed by Heritage Petroleum Company Limited (Heritage) and other smaller subsidiaries of Trinidad Holdings.
  • Proceeds from the transactions will be used primarily to repay Petroleum Co. of Trinidad & Tobago (Petrotrin)'s 2019 and 2022 senior notes. The outlook on the ratings is stable. This is the first time that Moody's assigns ratings to Trinidad Holdings.

(Source: Moody’s Investor Service)

[Bahamian] Govt ‘Narrowing’ Its $185m Revenue Gap Published: 17 April 2019

  • The government has narrowed its $185m revenue gap, the deputy prime minister has revealed, as it “keeps a close eye” on its agencies’ spending as the 2018-2019 fiscal year-end looms.
  • KP Turnquest told Tribune Business that the traditionally revenue-rich first quarter of the calendar year had helped “tighten” the difference between the government’s actual and projected revenue collection ahead of the upcoming 2019-2020 budget.
  • Suggesting this had further boosted confidence that the year-end $237.6m deficit target will be achieved, Mr Turnquest said the Ministry of Finance was closely scrutinizing all ministries, departments, and agencies to ensure there are no last-minute spending binges “where there is no legitimate need”.

(Source: Tribune 242)