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Plight of pensioners and the Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX)

Published:Sunday | March 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor
, Sir:

I read with utter amazement and disillusionment, the announcement by the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) that those investors who did not subscribe to the Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX) will have their bonds redeemed - on May 26, 2010 - when principal and interest are to be paid at rates applicable to those notes.

Some investors, especially pensioners who are in particularly tight financial circumstances, yielded to the threat of severe sanctions should they not participate in the exchange on terms laid down by the GOJ. Now they are being told, it seems, that the only penalty would be determined by the market. Surely, the decision to accept or reject this possibility ought to have been left up to individuals to make as a measured response depending on their personal situation. Instead, they were cowed into submission, at great cost, with the sword of Damocles of non-market sanctions over their heads like punitive taxation.

Draconian effect

Out of a sense of patriotism, some might have structured their investment to relieve their distress while at the same time supporting the larger national good. Now, those who rejected the Government's offer are to receive their principal, plus accrued interest at the old rates up to May 26, without the threatened additional penalty. Yet, those who accepted the offer under duress did not get back their principal and were paid interest only up to February 26, 2010!

Under those circumstances, and in light of these new developments, there is certainly sufficient justification for granting a similar or otherwise nuanced concession to pensioners who are hurting from the draconian effect on their financial status. To them the greatest punishment is the denial of timely access to their life's savings.

I am, etc.,