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World Bank approves $750Mn climate change loan to Colombia Published: 03 April 2024

  • The World Bank has approved a loan of $750 million to Colombia, to help the country become more resilient in the face of climate change by buoying up renewable energy efforts and reducing carbon emissions, the bank said on Monday.
  • The loan looks to boost the development of solar and offshore wind energy and green hydrogen, as well as bolster electric urban transport and multimodal transport, the bank said in a statement.
  • "It is important for Colombia to take up the transition toward a more resilient economy, with low carbon emissions and a focus on sustainable management of natural resources," the statement said.
  • The loan is the bank's second to the South American country focused on climate change, after a Dec. 2022 loan of $1 billion.

 (Source: Reuters)

Canada Launches C$6.0Bn Housing Fund in Bid to Quell Housing Crisis Published: 03 April 2024

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday launched a C$6.0Bn (US$4.42Bn) Canada Housing Infrastructure Fund to accelerate the construction and upgrading of housing.
  • The fund is one of the many schemes proposed by the government to spur the construction of houses and will be a part of the upcoming budget on April 16.
  • The government will allocate around one-fifth of the money to municipalities to build critical infrastructure around houses and the rest will go to provinces and territories to build houses for the middle class.
  • Canada faces a housing affordability crisis as a rapidly increasing immigrant population has far outpaced the number of available homes, increasing prices and rents. Additionally, 22-year high interest rates have also recently driven up mortgage costs.
  • Of the C$6.0Bn, C$1.0Bn is slated to be allocated to municipalities to support urgent infrastructure needs such as water, sanitation etc. The remaining C$5.0Mn will be for agreements with provinces and territories to support long-term priorities.

(Source: Reuters)

Inflation Down in German States, Pointing to National Decline Published: 03 April 2024

  • Inflation fell in six economically important German states in March, preliminary data showed on Tuesday, suggesting that national inflation will continue its downward trajectory.
  • "The combined message from the data in Germany, France, Italy and Spain is that the eurozone headline harmonized inflation will undershoot the consensus this week significantly," said Claus Vistesen, chief eurozone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
  • Economists polled by Reuters forecast Germany's harmonized inflation at 2.4% in March, down from 2.7% in February.
  • German companies' price expectations also fell in March to their lowest in three years, with inflation set to fall below the European Central Bank's target in the coming months, the Ifo Institute said on Tuesday.
  • Euro zone inflation is expected at 2.6% in March, unchanged from the previous month, a Reuters poll of economists shows.
  • ECB chief Christine Lagarde said in March the eurozone's inflation rate was set to keep falling, while economic growth would start picking up during the year.
  • A growing number of ECB policymakers have supported rate cuts, with a June meeting shaping up as the most likely time for action, although there is also a meeting set for this month.

 (Source: Reuters)

Thousands of Jamaicans to Benefit from Reverse Income Tax Credit Published: 02 April 2024

  • Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says the Reverse Income Tax Credit provision is intended for the mass of working citizens who contribute to the Jamaican economy through monthly or regular statutory deductions.
  • Closing the 2024/25 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (March 26), Dr. Clarke said the primary beneficiaries will be persons regularized before the end of the fiscal year, who earn below the income tax threshold, particularly Jamaicans earning close to the minimum wage.
  • He noted that there are already approximately 570,000 Jamaicans who earned less than $3 million (approx. 450,000 less than $1.5 million) in 2023 who contributed to the system via Education Tax, National Housing Trust (NHT) and National Insurance Scheme (NIS) statutory deductions.
  • During his presentation to open the 2024/25 Budget Debate, Dr. Clarke said the initiative means that every registered taxpayer who earns $3 million or under will benefit from a reverse tax credit of $20,000.
  • The funds will be made available through an online platform to make the process secure and efficient.

(Source: JIS)

Brazil Central Bank's June Decisions Will Be More Data Dependent, Says Governor Published: 02 April 2024

  • Brazil's central bank lacks a clear view of the steps it may take at its June meeting, making it more dependent on what the data shows, governor Roberto Campos Neto said on Thursday, as uncertainty weighs on the scale of future rate cuts.
  • Policymakers emphasized this week that uncertainties around the pace at which inflation will fall, both at home and abroad, had led them to revise their forward guidance, now anticipating another 50-basis-point cut at one upcoming meeting, in May, having previously flagged reductions on more than one occasion.
  • "When we don't have such a clear visibility, it is understood that we become somewhat dependent on the scenario from here until then," Neto told a press conference on Thursday.
  • The bank also revealed that "some members" of its rate-setting committee argued that if prospective uncertainty remains high in the future, a slower pace of monetary easing may prove appropriate.
  • Economic policy director Diogo Guillen noted at the press conference that while some members drew attention to that point, that "didn't mean other members disagreed with everything that was said."

(Source: Reuters)

UK-Based Power Titan Wants To Help Guyana Become Premier Industrial Hub With Fool-Proof Metering System, Other Reforms At GPL Published: 02 April 2024

  • UK-Based InterEnergy, one of the largest private sector power operators in the Dominican Republic (DR), is eager to help Guyana become a premier industrial hub for the region through key reforms at the country’s publicly owned utility company, the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).
  • According to InterEnergy’s CEO, Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster, InterEnergy, which is also active in Panama, Chile, Jamaica and Uruguay, can arm GPL with a game-changing metering system. 
  • CEPM is the crown jewel of InterEnergy’s chain of businesses, and the only electricity distribution company where 100% of its customers are managed through remote metering. Remote metering gives customers real-time access to their energy consumption data and easy migration from prepaid to postpaid contracts.
  • Additionally, the application would use sophisticated software and smart meters to provide customers with forecasts on temperature and power consumption in a given month. Once installed there would be no need for meter readers and customers could monitor consumption via a smartphone application.
  • Following the recent signing of a cooperation agreement with GPL, the CEO said his team of engineers and specialists have been instructed to fast-track a proposal on the technological advancements and investments from which the Guyanese utility company can benefit. 
  • Given the significant economic growth Guyana is expected to experience once it has six oil ships in operation by 2027, the CEO said the country will need more energy investments.

(Source: Oil Now)

US Manufacturing on The Mend; Rising Raw Material Prices Pose Obstacle Published: 02 April 2024

  • After a prolonged period of contraction, the manufacturing sector in the United States experienced growth in March, marking the first positive trend in a year and a half. The growth in manufacturing was fueled by a significant uptick in production levels and an increase in new orders. However, despite the overall improvement, the employment situation in the sector remained subdued, with limited hiring and reports of sizable layoffs.
  • One of the challenges accompanying the growth in manufacturing was the rise in input prices. This suggests potential inflationary pressures, which could have implications for both producers and consumers.
  • The survey conducted by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) provided further evidence of a recovering manufacturing sector. It indicated positive momentum and improving conditions within the industry.
  • The PMI, a key indicator of manufacturing activity, reached a reading of 50.3 in March. This figure is significant as it surpasses the threshold of 50, indicating expansion in the sector. Despite the overall positive trend, there were lingering concerns within the sector. Some businesses noted an increase in suppliers' selectivity regarding orders, indicating potential supply chain challenges. Additionally, worries persisted about the impact of rising energy prices on manufacturing operations.
  • The financial markets expect the Federal Reserve will initiate rate cuts in June. While the manufacturing rebound is a boost to economic growth prospects, the rise in raw material prices suggests goods inflation could pick up in the months ahead and will be factored into the Fed's monetary policy decision.

(Source: Reuters)

China's Forecast-Beating Economic Data Buys Officials Time to Figure Out Fix Published: 02 April 2024

  • China's economy, valued at $18.6 trillion, has shown resilience in recent months, with indicators suggesting it has sidestepped immediate risks of decline. This positive trend offers some relief to policymakers who are navigating economic challenges.
  • Despite the optimism, there are hurdles in the path of reigniting economic growth. Analysts are sceptical about China's ability to sustainably transform its growth model. The failure to achieve a sustained recovery post-lifting COVID restrictions in late 2022 has raised doubts about the efficacy of current strategies.
  • While China has implemented various policy measures to stimulate economic activity, such as directing banks to increase lending to specific sectors and reducing reserve requirements, there are concerns about the diminishing effectiveness of these policies. Questions arise regarding the long-term sustainability of China's growth trajectory if these measures prove insufficient.
  • The property sector, which has historically been a cornerstone of China's economy, is facing challenges that could impact overall economic stability. Despite efforts to bolster the sector, concerns persist about its potential to derail economic growth. This underscores the necessity for identifying sustainable growth drivers beyond short-term stimulus measures to ensure economic resilience.

(Source: Reuters)

Carib Cement’s Production Capacity Expansion on Target Published: 28 March 2024

  • Phase one of Caribbean Cement Company Limited’s (CCCL’s) US$40Mn expansion project, which will deliver an increase of up to 30% in production capacity, is progressing towards full completion next year. Managing Director, Jorge Martinez informed that the project has already created new local jobs and will be funded entirely by the company’s coffers.
  • “When completed, this project will further reduce our carbon emissions and deliver increased output from 2,600 to 2,850 tonnes of clinker per day to meet the increased local demand for cement,” he said.
  • He further noted that the company will also have the capacity to explore options for exporting to other countries within the Caribbean community and that these exports will benefit Jamaica’s economy through foreign currency income.
  • First announced in 2022, the expansion and increased capacity project will strengthen the self-sufficiency of the national cement industry, reduce dependency on cement imports, and reinforce the company’s priority to serve the growth of the construction sector in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.
  • When the expansion is completed, Carib Cement’s existing cement production capacity will increase by approximately 300,000 metric tonnes.
  • Caribbean Cement’s stock price has fallen by 4.9% since the start of the year, closing Wednesday’s trading session at $56.33. At this price, the stock trades at a P/E of 8.6x earnings, which is below the Main Market Energy, Industrials and Materials Sector Average of 16.0x earnings.

(Sources: Caribbean Cement and NCBCM Research)

Ciboney Group Limited Finalises Name Change Published: 28 March 2024

  • In line with shareholder approval received on December 6, 2023, Ciboney Group Limited has changed its name to Innovative Energy Group Limited. The Company will trade under the new listing/trading symbol ENERGY.
  • The renaming follows the takeover of Ciboney by the Wiltshire Group and is a prelude to the company tapping the financial market for at least US$20Mn in the first instance to execute capital-intensive energy-sector projects.
  • Ciboney Group was formerly a major investor in the Ciboney Hotels and Villas in Ocho Rios, St. Ann. However, the financial meltdown in the 1990s saw Ciboney's properties being sold off by the Financial Sector Adjustment Company (FINSAC), which was the majority shareholder in the distressed financial companies.

(Sources: JSE and NCBCM Research)