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Economists Hail Jamaica’s Sustained Debt Reduction as “Exceptional”

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Photo: Derrick Scott

Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, shares a moment with (from left) Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor, Emil Vermer; Professor, Harvard Business School, Laura Alfaro; University of Colorado Professor, Barry Eichengreen; Jamaican economist at Stanford University, Professor Peter Blair Henry; and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Economist, Serkan Arslanalp. Occasion was the Brookings Institute spring papers on economic activity, featuring Jamaica, in Washington DC on March 28.

Jamaica is being hailed as “exceptional” for achieving sustained reduction in the public-debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio (GDP) despite global financial crises, pandemics, and other emergencies.

In a paper titled ‘Sustained Debt Reduction: The Jamaica Exception’, authors Serkan Arslanalp, Barry Eichengreen and Professor Peter Blair Henry, noted that the sharp, sustained reductions in public debt are outstanding “because public-debt-to-GDP ratios have been trending up in advanced countries, emerging markets, and developing countries alike”.

The paper was presented at the Brookings Institute in Washington on Thursday (March 28).

“Governments have borrowed in response to financial crises, pandemics, wars and other emergencies, resulting in higher debt ratios. But only in rare instances have they succeeded in bringing those higher debt ratios back down once the emergency passed,” the paper pointed out.

Jamaican economist at Stanford University, Professor Peter Blair Henry, delivers a paper on ‘Sustained Debt Reduction the Jamaica Exception’ at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC on Thursday (March 28). At left is Co-presenter University of Colorado Professor, Barry Eichengreen.

In the case of Jamaica, the Government was able to cut its debt ratio in half from 144 per cent of GDP at the end of 2012 to 72 per cent in 2023.

The economists said the achievement was despite vulnerability to hurricanes, floods, droughts, earthquakes, storm surges and landslides, noting that Jamaica is ranked as the third most disaster-prone country in the world according to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.

“It did so despite a COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted tourism and mandated exceptional increases in public spending. Yet, despite this exogenously prompted deviation from plan, the IMF’s baseline projection, in its 2023 Article IV report, forecasts a further fall in debt-GDP to less than 60 per cent over the next four years,” the paper said further.

The paper highlighted the fact that the Fiscal Responsibility Framework, introduced in 2010, required the Minister of Finance to take measures to reduce, by the end of fiscal year 2016, the fiscal balance to nil, the debt-GDP ratio to 100 per cent, and public-sector wages as a share of GDP to nine per cent.

“The framework was augmented in 2014 to require the Minister, by the end of fiscal year 2018, to specify a multi-year fiscal trajectory to bring the debt-GDP ratio down to 60 per cent by 2026. The framework included an escape clause to be invoked in the event of large shocks.

“This prevented the rule from being so rigid, in a volatile macroeconomic environment, as to lack credibility. At the same time, it included clear criteria and independent oversight to prevent opportunistic use,” the paper said.

: Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, speaks with University of Colorado Professor, Barry Eichengreen (left), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor, Emil Vermer, at the presentation of the Brookings Institute spring papers on economic activity, featuring Jamaica, in Washington DC on March 28.

The paper further pointed to the consensus building exercise entered into by the Government, which was key to the achievement.

“In 2013, a series of ongoing discussions in the National Partnership Council, a social dialogue collaboration involving the Government, parliamentary Opposition, and social partners, culminated in the Partnership for Jamaica Agreement on consensus policies in four areas, first of which was fiscal reform and consolidation,” the paper noted.

“The Partnership for Jamaica Agreement fostered a common belief that the burden of fiscal adjustment would be widely and fairly shared. It supported the creation and ensured broad national acceptance of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) to monitor and publicly report on fiscal policies and outcomes, and to provide independent verification that all parties kept to the terms of their agreement,” the research said.

“By creating a sense of fair burden sharing, Jamaica’s organised process of consultation thus sustained public support for the operation of the country’s fiscal rules, culminating in March 2023 with the establishment of a permanent, independent Fiscal Commission,” the economists declared.

“Jamaica managed its financial system well in this period. It adeptly managed the term structure of the debt, by way of a well-designed fiscal rule, and a partnership agreement creating confidence that the burden of adjustment would be widely and fairly shared.

The fiscal responsibility and the partnership agreement were key, as neither element would have worked to achieve sustained debt reduction in the absence of the other.

Both were needed the authors declared.

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Businessuite News24

Who is M. Georgia Gibson Henlin, KC, CIPP-E, CIPM?

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M. Georgia Gibson Henlin is a distinguished attorney and the Managing Partner of Henlin Gibson Henlin, a premier law firm in Kingston, Jamaica. Known for her extensive expertise in complex dispute resolution, data protection, information technology, intellectual property, and telecommunications law, she has built a reputation as a formidable legal mind in both contentious and non-contentious fields.

Professional Background and Achievements

Georgia Gibson Henlin has an illustrious legal career, marked by numerous qualifications and recognitions. She was admitted to the Jamaican Bar in 1993, the Ontario Bar in 2002, the New York Bar in 2018, and the British Virgin Islands Bar in 2022. Her academic credentials include a Master of Law Degree in Innovation Law and Policy from the University of Toronto.

Gibson Henlin has been instrumental in shaping legal practices related to technology and data privacy in the Caribbean. She is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP-E) and a Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM), demonstrating her commitment to maintaining high standards in data protection and privacy law. Additionally, she is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, underscoring her capabilities in arbitration and mediation.

Leadership and Influence

As the Managing Partner at Henlin Gibson Henlin, Georgia leads a team of highly skilled attorneys. The firm specializes in complex commercial and civil disputes, representing clients across various sectors, including banking, telecommunications, and insurance. Under her leadership, the firm has garnered a reputation for innovative legal solutions and robust advocacy in high-stakes cases​ (Henlin)​​ (Chambers Talent)​.

Her influence extends beyond her firm. Gibson Henlin has contributed significantly to the legal community through her publications on regulatory issues in telecommunications and internet protocol. She has been consistently ranked in Chambers Global for General Business Law: Dispute Resolution, reflecting her standing in the legal profession​ (Chambers Talent)​​ (Chambers Practice Guides)​.

Contributions and Recognitions

Georgia Gibson Henlin’s contributions to the field of law have been recognized with various honors. She was conferred with the Order of Distinction, Commander Class, on Jamaica’s Independence Day in 2023 for her outstanding service to the legal profession​ (Francis Grey – Cayman Islands Law Firm)​.

Her work spans multiple jurisdictions, providing specialist legal advice and representing clients in significant legal matters. Gibson Henlin is known for her strategic approach and impactful advice, which align with her clients’ commercial goals.

M. Georgia Gibson Henlin is a leading figure in the Caribbean legal landscape, known for her legal acumen, leadership, and dedication to advancing the practice of law in areas critical to modern business and technology. Her work continues to influence and shape legal standards and practices in Jamaica and beyond.

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Who is Andrea Coy, CEO of GK Foods International Business?

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Andrea Coy is a seasoned executive with an extensive career in the food and finance industries. As the CEO of GK Foods International Business, she oversees the global manufacturing and distribution operations of GraceKennedy Foods across multiple regions, including the USA, Canada, the UK, Latin America and the Caribbean, Belize, West Africa, and Europe.

Career Journey and Leadership Roles

Andrea Coy began her journey with GraceKennedy Limited in April 2005, initially serving as the Financial Controller of Hi-Lo Food Stores. Her rapid rise through the ranks saw her appointed as General Manager of Hi-Lo in March 2006. By October 2010, she was leading World Brands Services, and in March 2012, she took on the role of CEO of Hardware and Lumber Limited. Her leadership prowess was further recognized in March 2014 when she became Senior General Manager for the Global Category Management Unit within the GK Foods Division.

In October 2015, Coy’s portfolio expanded as she was named CEO of GraceKennedy Foods Domestic. This role gave her responsibility for multiple segments, including Hi-Lo, Grace Foods & Services, World Brands, and several factories in Jamaica. Her current role as CEO of GK Foods International Business, assumed in January 2018, places her at the helm of the company’s extensive international operations​.

Board Memberships and Professional Affiliations

Andrea Coy’s influence extends beyond her executive duties. She is a member of the GraceKennedy Group’s Executive Committee and chairs several boards, including Grace Foods Ltd. and GraceKennedy Belize Ltd. Additionally, she holds directorships on the boards of GK Foods & Services Ltd., GraceKennedy Foods (USA) LLC, and Grace Foods UK Limited, among others.

Her expertise is further acknowledged through her role on the Bank of Jamaica Board of Directors, where she serves on the Audit Committee and chairs the HRD Committee. Coy’s background in finance is underpinned by her experience at Citibank, NA, where she served as Resident Vice President, and at Shirlome Chemical Group and Mair Russell Grant Thorton, where she held various senior positions​​.

Educational Background

Andrea Coy holds both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Accounting from the University of the West Indies, achieving honors and distinction, respectively. She is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica since 1997. To further bolster her managerial acumen, she completed professional education in Turnaround Management Strategies at Harvard Business School in 2011​​.

Impact and Vision

Under Coy’s leadership, GK Foods International Business continues to strengthen its global presence, adapting to market demands and expanding its footprint. Her strategic vision and operational expertise have been pivotal in driving the company’s growth and ensuring its competitive edge in the international market.

Andrea Coy’s journey reflects her resilience, strategic thinking, and dedication to excellence, making her a notable figure in the food industry and a leader poised to drive GraceKennedy’s international business to new heights.

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The Strategic Benefits of Corporate Breakups: Lessons for Caribbean Business Executives

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In recent years, several industrial conglomerates have opted to split into smaller, more focused entities. DuPont de Nemours is the latest in this line, following in the footsteps of giants like Johnson & Johnson, United Technologies, Danaher, and General Electric. This trend is not only reshaping the landscape of global business but also provides valuable strategic insights for Caribbean business executives.

Here, we explore the pros and cons of this approach and what Caribbean businesses can learn from these corporate breakups.

The Pros of Corporate Breakups

Increased Focus and Agility

Specialization: Smaller, independent companies can focus on their core competencies, leading to greater expertise and innovation in their specific sectors. This specialization can help them better serve their markets and respond more quickly to changes in demand or technology.

Agility: Without the bureaucratic layers of a large conglomerate, smaller companies can make decisions faster, adapt more quickly to market changes, and exploit new opportunities more effectively.

Enhanced Value Creation

Shareholder Value: By splitting into separate entities, companies often unlock shareholder value as each new company is easier to value independently. Investors can invest directly in the part of the business that interests them the most, potentially leading to a higher overall market valuation.

Operational Efficiency: Smaller companies can streamline operations, cut unnecessary costs, and focus investments more strategically, leading to better financial performance.

Strategic Clarity

Clear Vision: Each new company can develop a clearer strategic vision and direction, aligning their goals and resources more effectively with market opportunities and customer needs.

Talent Optimization: By focusing on specific areas, companies can attract and retain top talent who are experts in those fields, enhancing innovation and operational excellence.

The Cons of Corporate Breakups

Initial Costs and Complexity

Separation Costs: The process of splitting a conglomerate involves significant costs, including legal fees, restructuring expenses, and potential duplication of functions.

Operational Disruption: The transition period can cause operational disruptions as new entities establish their own systems, cultures, and processes.

Market Risks

Market Perception: Initial market reactions can be volatile. Investors may be skeptical about the potential success of the newly independent companies, leading to short-term stock price fluctuations.

Economic Conditions: Newly independent companies may be more vulnerable to economic downturns as they no longer have the diversified revenue streams that a conglomerate structure provides.

Loss of Synergies

Operational Synergies: Conglomerates benefit from shared resources, economies of scale, and cross-selling opportunities. Splitting into smaller companies may lead to a loss of these synergies, increasing operational costs.

Brand Value: The breakup might dilute a well-known brand, affecting customer loyalty and market positioning.

Strategic Takeaways for Caribbean Business Executives

Evaluate Core Competencies

Caribbean businesses should assess their core competencies and consider whether a more focused approach could lead to better market positioning and operational efficiency.

Consider Shareholder Value

Executives should analyze whether splitting into smaller entities could unlock shareholder value by providing clearer investment opportunities and improving market valuation.

Plan for Transition Costs

Any breakup plan should include a detailed analysis of the costs and operational challenges involved, with strategies in place to minimize disruption and manage the transition smoothly.

Balance Risk and Opportunity

It’s crucial to weigh the potential risks of losing operational synergies and facing market volatility against the opportunities for greater focus and agility.

Develop Clear Communication Strategies

Transparent communication with stakeholders, including employees, customers, and investors, is essential to maintain confidence and support during the transition.

In conclusion, while corporate breakups can offer significant strategic benefits, they come with their own set of challenges. Caribbean business executives can learn from the experiences of global conglomerates like DuPont de Nemours to make informed decisions that balance focus, efficiency, and shareholder value with the potential risks of market volatility and operational complexity. By carefully planning and executing a breakup strategy, businesses in the Caribbean can position themselves for greater success in an increasingly competitive and dynamic global market.

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Who is Dr. Taneisha Ingleton?

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Dr. Taneisha Ingleton is a prominent Jamaican leader currently serving as the Managing Director of the HEART/NSTA Trust. With a robust academic background, including a PhD, LLB, MPhil, and BA, she brings extensive expertise in human capital development, organizational leadership, and performance coaching.

Academic and Professional Background

Dr. Ingleton is a highly educated professional with a diverse academic portfolio. Her educational journey includes a PhD in Education from the University of the West Indies and an LLB from the University of London, among other qualifications. This extensive education underpins her strategic thinking and leadership capabilities​ (Home – Jamaica Observer)​.

Leadership at HEART/NSTA Trust

Since taking the helm at HEART/NSTA Trust, Dr. Ingleton has spearheaded numerous initiatives aimed at enhancing vocational and technical education in Jamaica. Under her leadership, the organization has expanded partnerships with global entities like City & Guilds, resulting in thousands of certifications across various trades and skills. She has been instrumental in modernizing the training programs to include cutting-edge fields such as autonomous robotics and digital marketing​ (Home – Jamaica Observer)​.

Key Achievements and Initiatives

Dr. Ingleton has led several significant projects at HEART/NSTA Trust, including the establishment of the first Autonomous Mobile and Aerial Robotics Lab in Montego Bay. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to equip the Jamaican workforce with skills relevant to the modern economy. Additionally, she has focused on addressing the backlog of certificates for graduates, ensuring that they receive their credentials promptly​ (Home – Jamaica Observer)​.

Commitment to Workforce Development

Her tenure is marked by a commitment to workforce development and youth empowerment. Dr. Ingleton’s efforts are aimed at not only improving technical and vocational education but also aligning these programs with the needs of Jamaica’s evolving economic landscape. Her strategic vision includes boosting support for the manufacturing sector and increasing enrolment in training programs through digital platforms​ (Home – Jamaica Observer)​.

Dr. Taneisha Ingleton’s leadership at HEART/NSTA Trust exemplifies a blend of academic excellence, strategic foresight, and a deep commitment to national development, making her a pivotal figure in Jamaica’s educational and economic sectors.

 

 

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Businessuite News24

Nvidia’s Transformative Impact on Technology and Business: What Caribbean Executives Need to Know

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Nvidia, a name that resonates deeply in the tech industry, has once again made headlines with its stellar performance, driving the AI revolution forward. This development holds significant implications for businesses worldwide, including those in the Caribbean. Understanding Nvidia’s trajectory and its potential impact can offer strategic insights for regional executives aiming to stay competitive in an increasingly tech-driven global market.

Nvidia’s Impressive Performance

Nvidia’s latest financial results have exceeded expectations, signaling a robust continuation of the AI-driven rally. The chipmaker’s sales forecast and recent quarterly results not only surpassed estimates but also justified the substantial rise in its share price over the past year. This performance suggests a sustained demand for Nvidia’s advanced semiconductor technology, particularly in AI applications.

For the Caribbean business community, this is a pivotal moment. Nvidia’s chips are foundational to AI development, powering everything from data centers to autonomous vehicles and advanced manufacturing processes. As AI becomes more integral to business operations, the demand for high-performance computing solutions like those offered by Nvidia is set to increase.

Broader Market Implications

Nvidia’s success is having a ripple effect across the technology sector, bolstering US stock futures and providing a lift to the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index. This momentum indicates a broader confidence in tech stocks, despite recent market volatility. For Caribbean investors and businesses, this could signal opportunities for strategic investments in technology stocks and AI-driven solutions.

Moreover, Nvidia’s advancements in AI are likely to drive innovation across multiple industries. From healthcare to financial services, AI-powered analytics and automation can enhance operational efficiency, improve customer experiences, and open new avenues for growth. Caribbean businesses, by adopting AI technologies, can streamline processes, gain competitive advantages, and even tap into new markets.

Navigating Economic Uncertainties

While Nvidia’s success story is compelling, it’s essential to consider the broader economic context. The Federal Reserve’s recent discussions highlight a commitment to maintaining higher interest rates to curb inflation. This stance could have varying effects on different sectors, including technology.

For Caribbean executives, staying informed about such macroeconomic trends is crucial. Higher interest rates can impact borrowing costs, investment decisions, and overall economic growth. However, the tech sector, particularly companies like Nvidia that are at the forefront of innovation, often demonstrates resilience and continued growth potential despite economic fluctuations.

Strategic Takeaways for Caribbean Businesses

Invest in AI Capabilities: As Nvidia’s technology drives the AI revolution, Caribbean businesses should consider investing in AI tools and platforms to enhance their competitiveness. Whether through direct investments in technology or partnerships with AI solution providers, leveraging AI can lead to significant operational improvements.

Monitor Tech Market Trends: The buoyancy in tech stocks, propelled by Nvidia’s performance, underscores the importance of keeping an eye on market trends. Caribbean investors and business leaders should stay updated on developments in the tech sector to make informed investment and strategic decisions.

Adapt to Economic Policies: Understanding the implications of monetary policies, such as the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decisions, is crucial for strategic planning. Businesses should assess how these policies might affect their operations and investment plans, particularly in sectors sensitive to economic shifts.

Conclusion
Nvidia’s blowout performance is more than just a tech industry headline; it’s a harbinger of the transformative power of AI and advanced computing. For Caribbean business executives, recognizing and adapting to these developments can unlock new opportunities and drive sustainable growth. By investing in AI capabilities, staying abreast of tech market trends, and navigating economic uncertainties with informed strategies, Caribbean businesses can thrive in the dynamic global landscape.

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