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Jamaican business lobby group “alarmed” at foreign currency crisis

The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) is raising alarm over a shortage in the supply of foreign currency to the productive sector and price volatility in the foreign exchange market

“The association is alarmed at yet another round of high volatility and unavailability of foreign currency in the market,” a statement from the JMEA read.

“During December the Jamaican dollar revalued dramatically to $131 and now, with less than two weeks gone in the new year, not only has the Jamaican dollar lost over three per cent of its value (and climbing) but it is also not available,” the statement continued.

“This cycle of volatility and lack of liquidity will create irrational behaviour that could undermine a lot of the hard work and sacrifice that have been made by all Jamaicans.”

– The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association

According to the JMEA, the inadequate supply and rising price of FX currency has disrupted the productive sector as many companies are unable to carry out normal business and meet obligations to suppliers.

The organisation, therefore, emphasised that the unavailability of funds creates an untenable situation which poses a risk to business confidence, the country’s growth agenda, and the viability of companies.

“This cycle of volatility and lack of liquidity will create irrational behaviour that could undermine a lot of the hard work and sacrifice that have been made by all Jamaicans,” the JMEA stated.

The business lobby group said it has made attempts to find sustainable solutions with stakeholders; however, none have come forward. Additionally, the JMEA revealed that the Bank of Jamaica has informed the organisation that inflows of foreign currency are adequate and trending above last year’s.

“Why then are we, the end users, unable to get money to conduct our normal business?” the JMEA questioned, while underscoring the productive sector’s importance to the Jamaican economy.

“…we are being treated as less than equal,” the organisation said further.

The Bank of Jamaica in downtown Kingston, Jamaica (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

As such the JMEA is calling for answers and solutions to what it calls a “crisis for the productive sector”.

The organisation said it is pleading to the authorities to intervene by making funds available to end users in the short term. In addition, it recommends a meeting of stakeholders to find a sustainable solution.

Checks with the Bank of Jamaica website revealed that the institution has no plans to buy or sell foreign currency up to February 5.