By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
FINANCE Minister Peter Turnquest yesterday criticised reports accusing the government of acquiring loans from banks caught up in controversy, insisting such claims are “very incorrect” and “misleading”.
The minister was responding to allegations in a local tabloid about the financial institution used by the government to secure its latest bond financing offering.
Asked about the issue before yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, the deputy prime minister replied: “I saw a tabloid speaking to the credibility of one of the participants, the book runner (for) the latest bond offering which is very unfortunate and I guess I’ll leave it there,” he told reporters before yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.
“But safe to say that the holders of our debt are not necessarily the institutions that act as the book runner or market maker for these issuances. The bonds are actually held by institutional investors throughout the United States and Europe in various chunks.
“So, it is very incorrect and misleading to say that a financial institution is in fact holding our debt or somehow whatever actions they may have been involved in or whatever would’ve had anything to do with... our paper or the credit that we’ve been able to receive.
“I think it’s mischievous. I think it’s very misleading and it’s unfortunate, but again we’ll talk a little bit more about that.”
On Monday, the Ministry of Finance announced that it had secured $600m from overseas investors via an international bond offering. According to Mr Turnquest, the $600m bond offering is “the largest chunk” of the debt financing that the government will seek to cover its $1.327bn deficit and finance the public sector.
Since the announcement, many questions have arisen about the offering. Yesterday, Mr Turnquest said more details will be announced shortly.
“I know that there are some concerns about the interest rate and the tenors. We will talk a little about that in detail. There’s also some concern about why we will go to an international offer versus a domestic offer and we’ll talk about that a little bit, to explain to Bahamians what we are trying to achieve,” he said.
“We do have another $400m in change left in our borrowing resolution that we will try to source primarily from the domestic market but we’ll work that out based on the economic activity over the next couple of months to see where we are and what our needs may be.”