Finance Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke says the impact of changes in the exchange rate has been politicized.
The Jamaican dollar lost 67-cents against the US yesterday, to open trading this morning at an average 134 dollars to one US. It’s caused some, including President of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Metry Seaga, to raise concern about the movement.
However, Dr. Clarke says there’s no need for Jamaicans to be concerned.
The Finance Minister says recent changes in the dollar have caused unnecessary anxiety.
He says Jamaicans have been raised to believe that movements in the exchange rate are detrimental.
But he says that’s no longer the case, as the exchange rate isn’t an adequate measure of the country’s economic health.
Dr. Clarke says the exchange rate is only one of the things that affects prices.
He points out that inflation is at less than 3-percent for the past year, meaning prices have remained fairly stable.
And, he says Jamaicans need to look at the wider picture internationally, when observing changes in the exchange rate.
He notes that the US dollar has been very strong in the past few months, not just against the Jamaican dollar, but globally.
Meanwhile, Minister without Portfolio in the Finance Ministry, Fayval Williams, says debt reconstruction by some companies and Jamaica’s growing economy are the causes for the fluctuation in the value of the US dollar versus the Jamaican dollar.
Minister Williams says companies are purchasing US dollars in bulk to refinance their existing debt at more favourable rates in Jamaican dollars.
Minister Williams also says the foreign exchange rate is fluctuating because Jamaica has been importing more over the last year.
This increase in importation, she says, is most pronounced in the productive sectors to match the growing economy.
Fayval Williams was speaking earlier today at a post-Cabinet media briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister.