As debate continues over the Petrocaribe buyback deal, focus is now being trained on the structure of the two new bonds.
It’s an important feature in assessing the overall impact of the deal.
Which is better? Repaying most of your principal near the end of a loan, or repaying portions of it every year?
The answer to that question is a major factor in determining whether the Petrocaribe debt buyback is a good deal.
Under Petrocaribe, Jamaica makes relatively small payments every year.
But under the double-bond, the bulk of the principal will fall due around the same time, in what are called bullet payments.
The JLP’s Deputy Spokesperson on Finance, Fayval Williams, argues that this is not an ideal structure.
But EPOC Co-Chairman, Richard Byles, holds the opposite view.
But what will happen when the bullet payments become due?
Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw says the government will simply borrow again to repay.
That’s not dissimilar to what Byles himself has admitted.
But he uses the term “refinancing”, where Audley Shaw says “borrowing”.
The other possibility is that Jamaica will be so prosperous in eleven years, that it will be able to afford the bullet payments without another loan or refinancing.
We put that question to the IMF’s resident representative to Jamaica, Bert Van Selm.
Not a straight answer about the likely state of Jamaica’s economy in 2026, but rather an insistence that the structure is the right one.
The best case scenario is that these years of austerity and the overall impact of the petro-deal will lead to growth.
But that all depends on how these recent gains are managed in the interim.