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Jamaica racks up J$12.5m per hour in new debt

Published:Sunday | December 9, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Data gathered from has revealed that the nation has, up to September, incurred billions of dollars in new debt, the value of which could, theoretically, go a far way in addressing many of the island's greatest concerns.

According to the data, for the period January to September 2012, Jamaica had incurred an estimated J$81.9 billion of additional debt.

Put more simply, Jamaica has added debt at the rate of J$299 million per day or J$12.5 million per hour, or J$207,000 per minute or, finally, almost J$3,461 per second.

In context, Jamaica added debt at a rate per day that could have paid the annual salaries of 167 new primary and secondary level teachers. The nation added enough debt per hour that could buy three state-of-the-art ventilators and leave change for machine maintenance.

The Government of Jamaica has agreed to new debt, which, per minute could have almost paid for a University of the West Indies' student's education and finally, new debt has been incurred each second that could alternately have comfortably bought a patty, coco bread and box drink for a dozen homeless persons.

The nation ended 2011 with debt in excess of J$1.63 trillion according to the Debt Management Unit of the Ministry of Finance. At the end of September 2012, calculations estimate the nation's debt has grown this year by about five per cent to J$1.71 trillion.

Domestic debt has grown by 10.5 per cent, mostly through the issuance of US$ denominated debt. This debt is counted towards domestic debt but its value changes in line with the foreign exchange rate.

External debt has actually fallen in US$ terms by 5.1 per cent. However, because the J$ has depreciated by 3.8 per cent (up to September 30) relative to the US$, external debt has only fallen by 1.4 per cent in J$ terms.

Given that the dollar has devalued further since September, the value of the total debt stands to increase. What is heartening, however, is that domestic debt was actually stable in September versus August.

Further, external debt continued its decrease in US$ terms.

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