Minister explains dollar slide (J$133 for US$1)

Jamaica Information Service – Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service Fayval Williams says increased local demand for the United States (US) dollar over recent weeks, has resulted in further depreciation in value of the Jamaican dollar against the US currency.

The Bank of Jamaica’s website indicates that the rate stood at J$133 for US$1 on Wednesday (July 25) afternoon.

Mrs. Williams explained that more companies, are looking at their debt structures and purchasing US dollars to service these, as interest rates in the local market decrease.

“They are looking at their debt structure because a lot of companies have US-dollar debt on their books. As rates converge in the local market, it is advantageous for them to change out those US dollar loans into Jamaican dollar loans which is excellent,” she said.

Mrs. Williams explained that this move reduces a company’s risks to foreign exchange exposure.

“But in executing these transactions, what actually happens is that the companies have to go into the market to buy the US dollars to repay the loans, and that causes increased demand,” the Minister stated.

She was addressing Wednesday’s (July 25) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.

Minister without Portfolio Fayval Williams addressing journalists during Wednesday’s (July 25) Post Cabinet Press Briefing at Jamaica House. Looking on is Information Minister Ruel Reid. Dave Reid Photo

Mrs. Williams said that an additional factor that is driving the slide in the Jamaican dollar’s value, is the significant increase in imports this year, compared to 2017.

“The economy is growing. We need to import more in terms of inputs for the production process. When we look at the data, we see that mineral fuels and transport equipment, chemicals, manufactured goods and food are leading the increase in imports,” she explained.

The Minister said she anticipates that the foreign exchange market will “work its way out”.

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