Caribbean: S&P Lowers Credit Rating for Several Countries

Standard & Poor downgraded several Caribbean countries including Barbados and the Bahamas in 2012. (Google Images)

Peter Richards of Caribbean 360 gives the lowdown on all of the changes that occurred in the Caribbean that resulted in a bevy of social, economic and political turmoil in 2012. Richards methodically highlighted the challenges facing many countries in the Caribbean:

*McKeeva Bush became the the first head of government (Cayman Islands) in modern Caribbean history to be detained by police on suspicion of theft in connection with financial irregularities relating to the alleged misuse of a government credit card, breach of trust, abuse of office and allegedly importing explosive substances without valid permits on or before February 2012. Subsequently, he received a vote of no-confidence and was voted out of office by his administration.

*After leading his Free National Movement (FNM) into defeat in the general elections in March, Hubert Ingraham bowed out of politics in the Bahamas. “I shall return to private life from whence I came,” he said, soon after the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), headed by Perry Christie, won what it termed the “most important general elections since 1967”.

*In Grenada, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas got Governor General Sir Carlyle Glean to prorogue parliament in the face of a second vote of no confidence in 2012. The first, filed in April, had been brought by the main opposition New National Party (NNP) of Dr. Keith Mitchell and although the National Democratic Congress (NDC) closed ranks in defeating the motion, the second in September was brought by Thomas’s former foreign affairs minister Karl Hood.

*Former Turks and Caicos Islands premier Michael Misick was arrested at the Santos Dumont Airport in Rio de Janeiro by Brazilian Federal Police. INTERPOL had issued an international warrant for Misick, who also found himself the subject of a warrant issued by the Brazilian Supreme Court. His arrest was sought in relation to an ongoing investigation by the Turks and Caicos Islands authorities into issues uncovered during the Sir Robin Auld’s 2008-09 Commission of Inquiry regarding alleged corruption and maladministration. Misick was implicated in large-scale corruption in Turks and Caicos that led to the suspension of the democratic government in the TCI by the United Kingdom. He faces several “serious charges” relating to corruption and maladministration.

*Jamaica has still yet to sign a new Stand By Agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

*In St. Lucia, the government of Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony launched a multi-million dollar stimulus package in a bid to turn around a sluggish economy.

*The US-based rating agencies, Standards & Poor’s (S&P) and Moody’s, downgraded several Caribbean countries including Barbados and the Bahamas during 2012, with S&P also downgrading the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) long term rating to AA with a warning that the ratings could plunge even lower if a regional government borrower fails to “clear its arrears” with the financial institution.S&P said that the decision to lower the ratings from AA+ to AA reflects “embedded credit risks in CDB’s loan portfolio.”

Read more at Caribbean 360.

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