Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says the Government’s economic reform and transformation programme is proceeding “at an appropriate speed.” He said that the programme, aimed at “restarting the engines of progress,” addresses a number of critical areas including debt management, containing wage-related expenditures, and growth promotion. The Minister was speaking at Mayberry Investments Limited’s monthly investor forum held yesterday (Nov. 21), at the Knutsford Court hotel in New Kingston. Dr. Phillips, who spoke on the topic: ‘The Jamaican economy – Where are we and where are we going?’ stated that the economic reform efforts are not limited to negotiating an International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement, even though it is a part of the programme. “The challenge that we face is a challenge not for the IMF, but a challenge for us, the people of Jamaica, to demonstrate that we have the capacity to manage our own economic and financial affairs responsibly and effectively in keeping with the sovereign rights, which we have held for 50 years,” he said. He stated that having an IMF agreement in place is important, as it represents “a seal of approval” to the international community, and provides a route of access to official financial flows, which have been suspended from 2011. “It is the seal that will secure access on acceptable terms to international capital markets and for that reason it is important, but it is not the be all and end all,” Dr. Phillips pointed out. He reiterated that the negotiations are expected to be finalized this calendar year. The Government is expecting to conclude a letter of intent by the end of December and “maybe we could get to the board by January,” he informed. “This past week we had officials of the government of Jamaica in Washington, looking at and exchanging data regarding our views on the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, which forms the basis of a letter of intent, which is to be issued,” he said.
zoom Some five months after the collapse of Korean shipping group Hanjin Shipping, more than two-thirds of all Hanjin-operated containerships remains inactive, according to shipping consultancy Drewry.Although a number of ships was auctioned for a total of USD 460 million so far, Drewry estimates that there remains up to as much as 150,000 TEU of Hanjin-owned ships still for sale.Hanjin’s demise exposed the frailty of container lines in an era of ultra-low freight rates and caused panic among cargo owners with assets aboard their ships. After the logistical chaos has been cleared up, what has happened to those vessels?An immediate impact could be seen on the containership idle fleet, which surged after 98 ships with an aggregate capacity of around 610,000 TEU were suddenly left without employ. The idle fleet went from 904,000 TEU in mid-August to 1.7 million TEU in mid-November.The declining stature of the idle fleet from December onwards is in large part due to some of those ex-Hanjin ships being re-chartered.Four vessels of 15,000 TEU in total have been scrapped, two of which were owned by Hanjin and none older than 20 years, while another 31 ships of 134,000 TEU have found new service elsewhere.Non-operating charterers have managed to find replacement lessors for 30 ships so far. Maersk Line has shown the biggest appetite for the former Hanjin fleet by chartering 11 vessels of 77,000 TEU, the largest being two 13,000 TEU units that were sold at auction to unnamed buyers in December for around USD 131 million apiece, according to unconfirmed media reports. Maersk is deploying the vessels in the 2M Alliance Asia-Europe network.There remain some 63 ex-Hanjin ships with close to 460,000 TEU worth of nominal capacity that are parked up. At least eight vessels should be back on the water fairly quickly.With such a glut of containerships already available and limited demand growth it is debatable just how big a market they can attract even at knock-down prices. The biggest and youngest ships are likely to have the biggest pull, according to Drewry.