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                     L A T I N   A M E R I C A

               Friday, March 23, 2018, Vol. 19, No. 59


A N T I G U A  &  B A R B U D A

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA: Clears IMF Debt Ahead of Elections


BAHAMAS: Must Make Changes to Exit List of Uncooperative Countries


BANCO BTG: Moody's Hikes Long-Term LC Deposit Rating to Ba2
BR PROPERTIES: Fitch Affirms BB- IDR; Outlook Negative
NOVA SECURITIZACAO: Moody's Assigns Ba2 Global Scale Rating to CRI

D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Senate OKs US$50M IDB Loan to Improve Tax Mgmt
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Banana Growers Scream as Haitian Workers Leave
PAWA DOMINICANA: Charges Could Strike a Final Blow on Airline


GUATEMALA: Growth Falls Short to Achieve Lift of Living Standards


JAMAICA: BOJ Records Decline in Counterfeit Currency Notes
JAMAICA: National Poverty Reduction Program Launched

                            - - - - -

A N T I G U A  &  B A R B U D A

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA: Clears IMF Debt Ahead of Elections
----------------------------------------------------- reports that just hours before residents of
Antigua and Barbuda went to the polls this morning, Prime Minister
Gaston Browne disclosed that his administration had fully paid off
the twin-island nation's debt to the International Monetary Fund

At a press conference, ahead of the general election, he said his
government had given instructions to the Eastern Caribbean Central
Bank to make the final payment of EC$12 million (US$4.4 million)
to "retire that EC$320 million (US$118.5 million) loan in its
entirety," according to

"It means therefore that from March 21 we will no longer be
indebted to the IMF and that would have signaled to the
international community and to investors that the Antiguan economy
is strong," Mr. Browne told reporters, the report notes.

The IMF loan was approved back in 2010, under a United Progressive
Party (UPP) administration -- led by Baldwin Spencer and in which
current UPP leader Harold Lovell was Finance Minister -- to
support the government's plan to address rising debt, weak
economic growth, and the effects of the economic crisis, the
report relays.

Questioned about the timing of the debt repayment, Prime Minister
Browne was forthright about it potentially benefitting his Antigua
and Barbuda Labor Party (ABLP) going into the poll, the report

"It so happens that we would have paid it down to $12 million on
the eve of elections, so why not pay it off and get the credit
going into elections? So I will accept that it is politically
opportune to do it at this time; I'm not going to hide from that.
But the reality is it was done and it will ultimately benefit the
people of Antigua and Barbuda," he said, the report notes.

"So I want to ask the people of Antigua and Barbuda a very simple
question: I want to know if they're going to support the leader
and the party who took them to the IMF or the leader and the party
who took them out of the IMF?" he added, notes

The report relays that Mr. Browne also disclosed that Venezuela
would be writing off a significant portion of Antigua and
Barbuda's PetroCaribe debt, which stands at half a billion

He said he had received confirmation that a letter would soon be
sent confirming "the forgiveness of up to 50 per cent of the
PetroCaribe debt," the report adds.


BAHAMAS: Must Make Changes to Exit List of Uncooperative Countries
RJR News reports that the Bahamas must undergo changes to its
legal and regulatory framework, and implement additional
accounting and reporting obligations in order to be removed from
the European Union's (EU) list of uncooperative countries.

Those comments came from Minister of Financial Services Brent
Symonette in an address to that country's parliament, notes the
report.  Mr. Symonette added that the legislation to make those
things happen will be debated by Parliament soon.

Minister Symonette reminded the House members that the government
had begun working on these measures to counter any kind of
blacklisting by the EU, says the report.  However, the government
had not responded correctly to the EU's request for commitment to
enact those changes by the end of the year and The Bahamas was
thus blacklisted, it adds.


BANCO BTG: Moody's Hikes Long-Term LC Deposit Rating to Ba2
Moody's Investors Service has upgraded Banco BTG Pactual S.A.'s
(BTG) long term local currency deposit to Ba2, from Ba3 and senior
unsecured MTN to (P)Ba2 from (P)Ba3. Its standalone baseline
credit assessment (BCA) was raised to ba2, from ba3. At the same
time Moody's upgraded the bank's long-term national scale deposit
rating to from BTG's long term foreign currency
deposit rating of Ba3 as well as short term local and foreign
currency deposit rating of NP and the short term Brazilian
national scale rating of BR-1 were affirmed. The outlook on its
ratings is now negative(m), in line with the negative outlook on
Brazil' sovereign ratings.

Moody's also upgraded BTG's Grand Cayman Branch's foreign currency
senior unsecured debt rating to Ba2, from Ba3, and the subordinate
debt rating to Ba3, from B1; BTG's Luxembourg Branch's preferred
stock non-cumulative debt rating was upgraded to B2(hyb), from

The rating action concludes the review of BTG's ratings which was
initiated on November 29, 2017.


Issuer: Banco BTG Pactual S.A.

-- Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Upgraded to ba2 from ba3

-- Baseline Credit Assessment, Upgraded to ba2 from ba3

-- Counterparty Risk Assessment, Upgraded to Ba1(cr) from Ba2(cr)

-- Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Upgraded to (P)Ba2 from (P)Ba3

-- Long term local Deposit Rating, Upgraded to Ba2, negative,
    from Ba3

-- Long term NSR Deposit Rating, Upgraded to from

Issuer: Banco BTG Pactual S.A., Grand Cayman Branch

-- Counterparty Risk Assessment, Upgraded to Ba1(cr) from Ba2(cr)

-- Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, Upgraded to Ba3 from B1

-- Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Upgraded to (P)Ba2 from (P)Ba3

-- Senior Unsecured Debt Rating, Upgraded to Ba2, negative, from

Issuer: Banco BTG Pactual S.A., Luxembourg Branch

-- Counterparty Risk Assessment, Upgraded to Ba1(cr) from Ba2(cr)

-- Pref. Stock Non-cumulative, Upgraded to B2(hyb) from B3(hyb)

-- Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Upgraded to (P)Ba2 from (P)Ba3

-- Senior Unsecured Debt Rating, Upgraded to Ba2, negative, from


Issuer: Banco BTG Pactual S.A.

-- Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

-- Short term local Deposit Rating, Affirmed NP

-- Short term foreign Deposit Rating, Affirmed NP

-- Short term NSR Deposit Rating, Affirmed BR-1

-- Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)NP

-- Long term foreign Deposit Rating, Affirmed Ba3, stable

Issuer: Banco BTG Pactual S.A., Grand Cayman Branch

-- Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

-- Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)NP

Issuer: Banco BTG Pactual S.A., Luxembourg Branch

-- Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

Outlook Actions:

Issuer: Banco BTG Pactual S.A.

-- Outlook, Changed To Negative(m) From Rating Under Review

Issuer: Banco BTG Pactual S.A., Grand Cayman Branch

-- Outlook, Changed To Negative From Rating Under Review


The upgrade of BTG's ratings reflects the bank's move to a less
complex business profile and resulting stabilization of its
balance sheet, particularly funding and liquidity, and revenue
generation. The rating action also incorporates Moody's
expectation that its revenue mix and future growth potential are
centered on more balanced business segments with contained risk
taking in terms of market, credit and liquidity risks.

BTG's consistent income generation from steady fee and interest
accruing businesses such as Asset & Wealth Management and
corporate lending have helped to soften the more volatile stream
coming from its Sales and Trading operation in 2017. The growing
assets and wealth under management and good ranking in capital
markets deals attest to the gradual recovery of BTG's franchise,
and the volumes are on track to reach 3Q2015 levels. At the same
time, BTG's cost cutting discipline has helped support
profitability at sound levels, with net income to tangible assets
reaching 1.9% in 2017, despite declining sharply from 3.1% in
2016. The bank's ample operational leverage should benefit from
increased business volumes. While volatile earnings from sales and
trading remain relevant to BTG's bottom line, Moody's expect
revenues from steady sources to contribute a similar 50% share of
total revenues as reported in 2017, supporting the sustainability
of the bank's new business model.

BTG's risk profile in 2017 was also supported by the sale of
assets and investments in past years and cautious corporate
lending. With the upcoming sale of its Petro Africa investment,
expected to be finalized in 2018, BTG will conclude its
deleveraging strategy of prior years. Moody's expect market risk
to stabilize at lower levels, despite potential rapid swings at
times, while credit risk -- a modest 1.8x of adjusted capital in
December 2017 -- will gradually increase, as focus turn to
corporate lending as a contributor to stable earnings. However, it
is unlikely that leverage will return to the 6.7x peak observed in
Q3 2015.

In terms of capitalization, BTG has held a considerably improved
position for the past 12 months, with Moody's tangible common
equity to risk weighted assets (TCE / RWA) of 14.5% in December
2017. Its regulatory capital has been similarly strong, with CET1
ratio at 12.4%. The expectation of consistent internal earnings
generation will reflect in increased capital, which will support
the bank's asset growth.

BTG's increasing ability to tap unsecured funding and extend
maturities has positively reflected in improved liquidity, as
reflected in the holdings of large volume of liquid assets, which
also reduces its exposure to funding risk. Nevertheless, BTG
remains reliant on its institutional client base for funding, an
intrinsic dependence that management plans to address with
investment in a new digital bank platform, now under development.
The bank restored its access to capital markets following the
USD500 million senior note placement in December 2017.

The negative outlook on BTG's global scale long-term local deposit
and senior unsecured debt ratings reflects the negative outlook on
Brazil's Ba2 sovereign rating and considers the high credit
interlinkages banks have with their sovereigns, directly via
holdings of government bonds, and indirectly, via lending book
exposure to the real economy.


In line with the negative outlook, the rating does not face upward
pressure at this time. However, the outlook could be stabilized if
and when the sovereign outlook returns to stable.

BTG's ratings could be downgraded if Brazil's sovereign rating is
downgraded. Also, the bank's ratings could face downward pressure
if 1) asset risk faces a sharp deterioration; 2) TCE/RWA records a
meaningful decline; 3) profitability pressures arise from
consistently lower revenue generation; and 4) access to unsecured
funds and/or the volume of liquid resources is insufficient to
counterbalance its intrinsic market funds reliance.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Banks
published in September 2017.

BR PROPERTIES: Fitch Affirms BB- IDR; Outlook Negative
Fitch Ratings has affirmed BR Properties S.A.'s Long-Term Foreign
and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at 'BB-' and
National scale long-term rating at 'A(bra)'. The Rating Outlook
for the corporate ratings remains Negative.

BR Properties S.A.'s ratings are supported by the company's
position as the largest Brazilian commercial properties company,
with high-quality properties and tenant base. BR Properties'
conservative liquidity strategy, with low refinancing risk from an
extended debt amortization profile, is a key rating consideration.
The ratings are also supported by the estimated BRL7.5 billion
market value of properties in December 2017 (excluding projects
under development), covering by 3.3x the company's net debt, and
by the expectation that coverage ratio should strengthen due to a
combination of significant lower interest rate in Brazil and a
gradual improvement in EBITDA generation.

The Negative Outlook continues to reflect the still challenged
business environment and BR Properties' challenges to reduce its
high vacancy rates (22%), in order to recover operational cash
flow generation and report leverage, measured by net debt/EBITDA,
at more conservative levels compared to current levels, to avoid
continued pressure on its ratings. BR Properties' leverage is high
and deleveraging has been slower than expected due to relevant
asset acquisitions and weak economic scenario that negatively
impacted vacancy rates and rental prices, despite the capital
increase of BRL953 million in July 2017. In Fitch's opinion, BR
Properties still has to demonstrate its commitment to maintain
leverage at lower levels.


Leverage Reduction Slower than Expected: Leverage reduction has
been slower than previously projected due to relevant properties
acquisition and weaker EBITDA generation negatively affected by
adverse business environment and lower scale of operations. In
2017, net debt/EBITDA was 7x and Fitch's base case net leverage
projection for 2018 has been revised to about 6x, falling to 5.3x
during 2019. This compares with expected net leverage of 5.9x in
2017 and 4.6x in 2018 during the 2017 rating review. Relative to
the value of the company's property portfolio, loan-to-value ratio
was 43% and 29% on a net basis in December 2017.

BR Properties' strategy for future acquisitions and the successful
increase in EBITDA from lower vacancy rates will be key for
leverage ratios and determine future rating actions. Ratings
pressure could heighten if the company is not able to present a
clear deleveraging trend in the medium term. During 2014 to 2017,
the company sold more than BRL5 billion of assets and received a
capital increase of BRL953 million, while debt reduction was about
BRL2.2 billion and dividends totalled approximately BRL2.5
billion. As of Dec. 31, 2017, BR Properties had BRL3.3 billion of
total debt.

EBITDA to Gradually Recover: Fitch expects cash flow from lease
agreements to gradually improve, in case a gradual recovery of
business environment is confirmed, with positive affect on vacancy
rates. The company's cash flow generation fell since 2014 due to
the negative economic conditions and lower scale of operations,
which resulted in an increase in leverage and lower interest
coverage ratios. This was intensified by property acquisitions of
about BRL1.2 billion during 2016 and 2017. If BR Properties is not
successful in reducing vacancy rates and recovering cash flow
generation in the short term, the ratings will be pressured.

Fitch projects EBITDA around BRL375 million in 2018, improving to
about BRL427 million in 2019. BR Properties generated BRL320
million of EBITDA and cash flow from operations was negative BRL17
million in 2017, as per Fitch's calculation, pressured by high
financial expenses. Investments of BRL564 million and dividend
distributions of BRL7 million resulted in negative FCF of BRL589
million during 2017. BR Properties received BRL953 million of
capital increase and about BRL324 million from sale of assets in
2017. Interest coverage, measured as EBITDA/interest, remained low
and was 0.9x in 2017, compared with 0.8x in 2016 and 1.5x in 2015,
and Fitch projects to improve to 1.3x in 2018.

Vacancy Rates Remain a Concern: Fitch expects a slow recovery in
Sao Paulo commercial properties market during 2018 and 2019. Lower
delivery cycle, higher net absorption, growing demand and flight
to quality should support a reduction in vacancy rates and rental
prices recovery. However, Fitch still has a cautious view on the
recovery speed. BR Properties' activities are concentrated in Sao
Paulo (51% of total gross leasable area) and Rio de Janeiro (44%).
In Fitch's view, the important presence in Rio de Janeiro market
adds higher challenges to BR Properties, due to the strong
economic and security crisis in the state, which could result in
higher challenges for the recovery of this market.

BR Properties continued to report high vacancy rates due to
Brazil's difficult business environment and the company's recent
properties acquisition. In December 2017, financial vacancy was
22% and physical vacancy was 30.2%. Excluding recent acquisitions
(Passeio Corporate, Galpao Imbuia and Centenario Plaza Complex),
financial vacancy would reduce to 12.3%. Fitch estimates that the
early termination of Petrobras' lease contract of West Tower and
part of East Tower of Ventura office building should have a
negative impact of approximately 4.4 p.p. in the company's
physical vacancy. However, Petrobras' decision to return part of
Ventura building will have no impact on BR Properties' revenues
during 2018, due to penalty fees.


BR Properties' historically strong liquidity, with low refinancing
risk from an extended debt amortization profile, is a key rating
consideration. BR Properties leverage is still high and the
expected reduction is taking longer than anticipated. The
company's interest coverage ratios and leverage are weaker than
players in the mall segment. The company's aggressive growth
strategy in the short to medium term also adds uncertainty about
the company's commitment to reduce leverage to more conservative
levels, and is incorporated in the Negative Outlook.

BR Properties is the largest commercial properties company in the
fragmented Brazilian market, with high-quality properties and
tenant base. The company had an estimated market value of
properties of BRL7.5 billion in December 2017 (excluding projects
under development), with a gross leasable area of 595,897 square
meters. The company's assets are located in Brazil, mainly in Sao
Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and are concentrated in office buildings
following the sale of several properties between 2014 and 2016.

BR Properties is rated below BR Malls Participacoes (FC IDR
BB/Stable, LC IDR BB+/Positive, National Scale rating
AA+(bra)/Positive), Iguatemi Empresa de Shopping Centers S.A.
(AAA(bra)/Stable), Multiplan Empreendimentos Imobiliarios S.A.
(AAA(bra)/Stable), and Sonae Sierra Brasil S.A. (AA(bra)/Stable)
due to more volatile cash flow generation capacity from office
buildings compared to a more resilience EBITDA generation of the
malls operators. BR Properties' vacancy rates are higher than
malls operators, as demand for commercial properties is directly
related to Brazil's macroeconomic conditions and was very affected
by recent recession.


Fitch's Key Assumptions Within Fitch Rating Case for the Issuer

-- Vacancy rate gradually declining during 2018 and 2019;
-- No sale of assets;
-- Property acquisition of BRL71 million in 2018;
-- Minimum dividends distribution;
-- Maintenance of adequate liquidity.


Developments That May, Individually or Collectively, Lead to
Positive Rating Action

A rating upgrade for BR Properties is not likely in the near
future. A sustainable recovery of cash flow generation and
maintenance of leverage at more conservative levels for a longer
period could result in a stabilization of the Rating Outlook.

Developments That May, Individually or Collectively, Lead to
Negative Rating Action

-- Expectation that net leverage will not reduce to below 6.0x in
    the following years;
-- EBITDA to gross interest expense coverage ratio consistently
    below 1.0x;
-- Liquidity falling to levels that considerably weaken short-
    term debt coverage;
-- Vacancy rates consistently above 20% and higher delinquency
    rates, which could result in a reduction in operational cash
-- Sale of assets that results in a weaker portfolio of
    properties, with a significant reduction of the company's cash
    flow generation capacity, absent a strong leverage reduction.


Strong Liquidity: BR Properties' has preserved healthy liquidity
in the last few years and a manageable debt amortization profile.
As of Dec. 31, 2017, total cash and marketable securities was
BRL1.1 billion and total debt was BRL3.3 billion. High cash
cushion benefited from the capital increase of BRL953 million in
July 2017 and sale of assets. Cash covered short-term debt of
BRL599 million by 1.8x and was used to finance the company's
negative FCF. About 66% of BR Properties' debt is secured and the
company has demonstrated satisfactory ability to access local and
international debt markets.


Fitch has affirmed the following ratings:

BR Properties S.A.
-- Long-Term Foreign Currency IDR at 'BB-';
-- Long-Term Local Currency IDR at 'BB-';
-- USD285 million senior unsecured perpetual notes at 'BB-';
-- Long-term national scale rating at 'A(bra)'.

The Rating Outlook for the corporate ratings is Negative.

NOVA SECURITIZACAO: Moody's Assigns Ba2 Global Scale Rating to CRI
Moody's America Latina Ltda. has assigned definitive ratings of
Ba2 (Global Scale, Local Currency) and (National Scale) to
the 26th Series of the first issuance of real estate certificates
("certificados de recebiveis imobiliarios" or CRI) issued by Nova
Securitizacao S.A. (Nova Securitizacao, the Issuer or the
Securitizadora) and backed by one series of debentures issued by
BR Properties S.A. (BR Properties).

Issuer: Nova Securitizacao S.A. - 26 Serie da Primeira Emissao

26 Serie - Primeira emissao, Assigned Ba2 /


The Ba2 (Global Scale, Local Currency) and (National Scale)
ratings assigned to the CRI are primarily based on the willingness
and ability of BR Properties (as debtor) to honor the payments
defined in transaction documents, as reflected in the Ba2/
senior secured ratings of the underlying debenture backing the CRI
issuance. Any change in the ratings of the debentures will lead to
a change in the ratings of the CRI.

The certificates are backed by a real estate credit note ("cedula
de credito imobiliario" or CCI), which in turn is backed by the
debentures issued by BR Properties. The underlying debentures are
rated Ba2 (Global Scale, Local Currency) (National Scale).
BR Properties is responsible to maintain an expense reserve above
or at the minimum level established in the transaction documents.
BR Properties is also responsible for covering any extraordinary

The CRI are floating rate notes, indexed to the DI (interbank
deposit rate) rate plus a spread of 70 basis points. Interest will
be paid on a quarterly basis, followed by two principal payments
in March 2022 and March 2023.

The definitive ratings on the CRI are based on a number of
factors, among them the following:

- The willingness and ability of BR Properties (as debtor) to make
payments on the underlying debentures, rated Ba2/ BR
Properties is therefore ultimately responsible for making timely
principal and interest payments on the debentures backing the CRI.

- Pass through structure; interest risk mitigated: The payment
schedule of the CRI replicates the scheduled cash flow of the
underlying debentures, with a one-day lag, which allows adequate
timing to make payments under the CRI. The CRI payments will match
any payments on the underlying debentures. The floating rate of DI
to be paid under the CRI will be determined using the same DI
period under the underlying debenture. To mitigate the risk of the
additional one day of interest for the first interest payment, the
debentures will incorporate one extra day of interest accrual.

- BR Properties is ultimately responsible for the transaction
expenses: BR Properties is responsible, under the transaction
documents, for all the CRI expenses. In addition, the CRI will
benefit from an expenses reserve, sized to cover any shortfall of
cash to pay down transaction expenses. BR Properties is
responsible to maintain a minimum of BRL 12,000 in the expenses
reserve throughout the life of the transaction.

- BR Properties' payment obligations under the debentures,
assignment agreement and the trust expenses related to the CRI
issuance will benefit from: (i) a fiduciary lien ("alienacao
fiduciaria") of Galpao Tucano, an industrial
warehouse/distribution center with 31,716 square meters of gross
leasable area (GLA), located in the city of Jarinu, in Sao Paulo
state, and (ii) a pledge of receivables ("cessao fiduciaria") of
the current and future tenant rent flows related to the
exploration of the building. The property is conveniently located
near multiple modes of transportation, including toll roads,
airports and seaport.

- No commingling risk: BR Properties will make the payments due on
the debentures directly to the transaction trust account held at
Banco Bradesco S.A. (Ba2 negative).

- Segregated assets: The CRI benefit from a fiduciary regime
("regime fiduciario") whereby the assets backing each series of
CRI are segregated. These segregated assets are destined
exclusively for payments on the CRI as well as certain fees and
expenses, and will be segregated from all of the other assets on
the issuer's balance sheet. However, the transaction is subject to
residual legal risk because Nova Securtizacao's real estate
credits can be affected by the securitization company's tax, labor
and pension creditors. (For more information, see the "Fiduciary
Regime and Segregation of Assets" section in the Pre-sale Report.)

BR Properties S.A. [BOVESPA: BRPR3], headquartered in Sao Paulo,
Brazil, is an owner, acquirer, manager, and developer of office,
industrial and retail properties in the main economic regions of
Brazil. As of December 31, 2017, the company held interests in 46
properties, totaling 685 thousand square meters of GLA, of which
five land parcels are for future development.

The Ba2 / senior secured ratings of the debentures that
backs the CRI reflects BR Properties' dominant size and scale as
one of the largest owners of high-quality, office and industrial
properties in Brazil, its strengthening balance sheet, improved
liquidity, as well as the collateral package of the offering The
global scale senior secured rating is one notch above the
company's senior unsecured (foreign currency) rating of Ba3.

Nova Securitizacao was incorporated in 2007 as a securitization
company (companhia securitizadora de creditos imobiliarios)
authorized to issue real estate certificates (CRI) and
agribusiness certificates (CRA) as per Brazilian law nß 9,514/97.
To date, Nova Securitizacao has issued circa 25 transactions of
CRI, totaling approximately BRL1.5 billion, with an outstanding
amount of CRI of BRL 1.2 billion. Nova Securitizacao financial
auditor is BLB Auditores Independentes.

Factors that would lead to an upgrade or downgrade of the ratings:

Any changes in the senior secured ratings of the underlying
debentures will lead to a change in the ratings on the CRI.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was "Moody's
Approach to Rating Repackaged Securities" published in June 2015.

D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Senate OKs US$50M IDB Loan to Improve Tax Mgmt
Dominican Today reports that the Senate approved a US$50 million
loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), aimed at
improving Dominican Republic's tax administration efficiency and
public spending.

The initiative submitted by the Executive Branch on Nov. 21, 2017
aims to improve the tax collection efficiency and better educate
the taxpayer population, according to Dominican Today.

The Senate also approved a bill to amend Article 91 of Law 479-08
on Businesses and Individual Limited Liability Companies, the
report notes.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
Nov. 20, 2017, Fitch Ratings has affirmed Dominican Republic's
Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BB-'
with a Stable Outlook.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Banana Growers Scream as Haitian Workers Leave
Dominican Today reports that the lack of day laborers poses a
threat to banana harvests and exports to Europe, since most
workers, of Haitian origin, when they get documents leave the
farms and emigrate to tourist areas such as the East, the North
and major cities, such as Greater Santo Domingo and Santiago,
according to agro producers, military and govt. officials.

Monte Asamsi Northwest Agricultural Association director Rafael
Sosa warned that the Dominican Republic is on the verge of losing
Europe's export market due to the lack of workers, according to
Dominican Today reports that.

The agro leader said the 15,787 Haitians working in the
Northwest's banana plantations, all have headed to tourism regions
such as Bavaro, the East, North Coast and others, the report

The head of the entity which groups banana producers said the
foreigners have to have legal papers and access to public
services, otherwise the product doesn't enter the European market,
the report relays.

"But ever since we gave them the regularization card, they leave
our farms," Mr. Sosa told Listin Diario, the report notes.

He noted that, like him, many banana workers complain that, of the
eight cleaners who normally work in disinfecting the fruit, only
two were operating, the report discloses.

"With so much effort we regularized them, but they leave our
farms," Mr. Sosa said, adding that other Haitians who have entered
the country irregularly have been returned to their country, and
now have no laborers to weed, cut, harvest and re-plant, the
report adds.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
Nov. 20, 2017, Fitch Ratings has affirmed Dominican Republic's
Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BB-'
with a Stable Outlook.

PAWA DOMINICANA: Charges Could Strike a Final Blow on Airline
Dominican Today reports that the Dominican Civil Aviation
Institute (IDAC) and the Civil Aviation Board (JAC) filed a
complaint at the Justice Ministry against the suspended airline
Pawa Dominicana for distraction of funds and defaults in payments
and airport fees.

A team of IDAC and JAC lawyers filed the lawsuit against the
airline, on behalf of both agencies, whose measures will likely
herald the end the carrier, according to Dominican Today.

The airline which started flight operations just a few years ago
was suspended from flying last Jan. 26, on financial violations
with the aeronautics and civil aviation agencies, the report

Following the suspension, the airline left over 6,000 passengers
stranded at Las Americas International airports and the terminals
in Miami, Aruba, Curacao, San Martin, Havana and San Juan, the
report relays.


GUATEMALA: Growth Falls Short to Achieve Lift of Living Standards
According to a Concluding Statement issued by IMF staff at the end
of its official staff visit (or 'mission'), underpinned by solid,
hard-earned macroeconomic stability, Guatemala's near-term growth
has been good but falls short of the rates needed to achieve
Guatemala's aspirations to meaningfully lift the living standards
of its citizens. The mission recommends greater policy support for
the economy over the near-term as well as supply side reforms --
including an integral fiscal reform -- that would sustain higher
per capita growth rates and lift more Guatemalans out of poverty
into the medium-term. The legacy of the Peace Accords and the
Fiscal Pact are good basis to articulate the national dialogue in
the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

1. Raising living standards continues to be the main challenge
facing Guatemala. Income per capita over the past decade has grown
at an average rate of 1 percent, a rate that is insufficient to
meaningfully reduce Guatemala's high levels of poverty (currently
at 60 percent of the population). Over the last two years, even
though strong remittance inflows have helped sustain private
consumption, growth has decelerated as a result of weak
confidence, insufficient contribution of budget spending to
growth, court-mandated suspensions of mining activities, and
unfavorable external conditions. This slowdown has been broad-
based, evident in employment, private consumption, and credit

2. The mission forecasts a subdued recovery in the near term.
Better U.S. growth, accommodative monetary conditions, and some
support from pent-up government spending should allow growth to
rise gradually to 3.6 percent by 2019. Achieving better growth
outturns will require efforts to boost both public and private
investment (which, at 14 percent of GDP overall, is low relative
to Guatemala's peers). However, inadequate budgetary revenue
constrains the government's ability to spend on physical and human
capital and political fragmentation have diminished the prospects
for those future reforms that would help attract private

3. Inflation is expected to remain within the central bank's
target range, with risks skewed toward the lower part of the band.
Despite political uncertainties over the last couple of years, a
sound monetary policy management helped keep inflation
expectations firmly anchored. Also, slowing activity, low oil
prices, and a strong currency kept headline inflation comfortably
within the 4Ò1 percent target range last year, leaving aside a
couple of short-lived bouts of food inflation. Core inflation has
been mostly below the 3 percent lower bound of the target range in
2017 and, as of February 2018, is falling. Even as oil prices
return to higher levels, staff's projected economic slack into
2019 is expected to result in a headline inflation rate that is
below the mid-point of the target range over the near term.

4. The external position is stronger than implied by Guatemala's
medium-term fundamentals and desirable policies. The combination
of low oil prices and an upsurge in remittance inflows have
resulted in a sizable improvement in the current account coupled
with a modest appreciation of the exchange rate. By the same
token, a partial normalization of these forces is expected to
bring the current account to a modest deficit by 2021. Staff
analysis suggests that the current account in 2017 was around 2¨
percent of GDP above what would be expected given Guatemala's
young population and low per capita income. Spending more on
public infrastructure, expanding social protection, and removing
structural impediments to investment would facilitate an
adjustment to a small current account deficit over the medium-
term. Such an adjustment should be expected to be accompanied by a
further, modest appreciation in the exchange rate.

5. The mission assesses the risks to the outlook to be tilted
downwards. Domestic risks that are worth highlighting include both
binding budget limits and insufficient progress in addressing
spending under-execution, both of which limit the ability of the
public sector to support growth. The delayed resolution of
judiciary decisions that will allow for the normalization of the
operations of a large mining company is also a risk. While global
financial conditions are currently very accommodative, they could
tighten abruptly, raising the future cost of external financing
and weighing on growth. Guatemala also faces serious, albeit low
probability, tail risks from future restrictions on financial
transfers from the U.S. that disrupts remittances, an increase in
the deportations of Guatemalan nationals from the U.S, or from a
broader global retreat from trade openness and cross-border

Recalibrating the Policy Mix

The macroeconomic policy mix should be geared towards supporting
demand. Ideally, such support should come from a loosening of
spending limits and an improvement in the government's ability to
execute growth-enhancing social and infrastructure programs.
However, the contribution of fiscal policy to economic growth may
fall short of expectations. If true, and growth and inflation
outturns are weaker than the central bank's forecasts, further
monetary policy support should be considered.

6. A supplementary budget is necessary to support near-term growth
and address longstanding infrastructure gaps and social needs.
After Congress rejected the government's 2018 budget (which
proposed a debt-financed increase in spending of around 10 percent
in real terms), the government's ability to meaningfully expand
spending is constrained. The government's supplementary budget --
that would aim to raise spending by up to 1/2 percent of GDP in
2018 -- merits support. During this budget year, a particular
focus should be placed on raising capital spending. Spending
should be increased by around 1 percent of GDP starting in 2019,
centered on a few large-scale, high-impact programs designed to
address essential social and infrastructure needs (below). Over
the medium-term, this higher spending should be financed through a
comprehensive tax reform.

7. In parallel, best efforts should be deployed to improve the
execution of spending. Reforms of the Procurement Law, adopted
over the past two years, have facilitated greater oversight over
public spending and contributed to tackling corruption. However,
as a side-effect, these new controls have led to slower execution
of spending, given continued reluctance by public officials to
execute projects because they could be personally liable and, at
times, the lack of unified criteria in the assessment of bidding
process by auditors. The mission welcomes efforts towards the
identification of outstanding obligations for projects carried
over from the previous year, and improved clarification in the
application by Comptroller auditors of administrative versus
criminal procedures. Additional measures to speed up execution,
without diluting the appropriate focus on governance, could
include a reform of the General Comptroller towards the
development of preventive capacities and concurrent auditing,
consensual interpretation of the norms applied to procurement, and
the application of unified criteria to protect public employees
from potential arbitrary decisions by auditors. The creation of
the Vice Ministry for Transparency, aimed at coordinating and
supervising the myriad decentralized entities involved in
procurement, also shows promise coupled, in the medium term, with
a new procurement law. The revised framework would favor the
design of a national investment strategy to be input into a multi-
year investment budget.

8. Monetary policy is rightly accommodative and further reductions
in the policy rate should be considered if growth and inflation
disappoint relative to the central bank's forecasts. Reflecting
monetary policy accommodation, policy rates, adjusted for expected
inflation are negative and are below estimates of the neutral
policy rate. Nonetheless, there are important uncertainties to the
outlook, including inadequate budget execution preventing fiscal
policy from sufficiently supporting domestic demand. If activity
indicators have not strengthened by mid-year and inflation risks
appear to remain to the downside, the central bank should remain
open to further lowering policy rates to support the economy. The
recently-adopted microcredit, collateral, and factoring laws
should facilitate monetary policy transmission. Putting in place a
comprehensive securities market and public debt law, continued
efforts towards discouraging financial dollarization, and
encouraging competition in the banking sector would help deepen
financial intermediation, support growth, and improve monetary
policy transmission over the medium term.

9. The central bank's inflation targeting framework would benefit
from allowing for greater exchange rate flexibility. Over the past
2-3 years, amidst strong remittance inflows and soft nominal
imports from terms of trade gains, the central bank's foreign
currency intervention rule has led to a sustained accumulation of
foreign currency reserves. Going forward, the authorities should
continue to allow greater currency flexibility to facilitate a
smoother external adjustment to changing global and domestic
conditions. Further widening of the margin under which FX
intervention is triggered and reducing the amount of intervention
undertaken once the rule has been triggered warrant consideration.
If remittance flows were to abruptly decline, the authorities
should respond with both sales of foreign exchange and a
depreciation on the exchange rate.

Higher Potential Growth, Better Living Standards and A More
Resilient Financial System

Reversing the downward trend in investment is key to raising
living standards and capitalizing on the demographic dividend
expected to occur over the next two decades. This will require
actions on multiple fronts. First, improving business environment
conditions. Second, an integral fiscal reform encompassing
continued tax administration efforts, tax policy changes, and
spending flexibility, all geared at high- impact projects in
pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. Third, expanding
social protection by creating more formal jobs in the economy.
Last, but not least, sustained efforts to improve governance.

10. A better business climate is vital to spur private investment.
The government is introducing an online system for businesses tax
reporting and registration as well as a system of arbitration to
resolve business disputes. Further efforts could be made to
coordinate all entities involved in the awarding of construction
licenses and reduce judicial backlogs in contract disputes.
Simplifying customs procedures will be important to maximize the
gains from the recently adopted customs unions with Honduras, with
no detriment to ongoing revenue mobilization efforts or the
warranted control of illicit flows. The authorities should strive
for a swift incorporation of ILO Convention 169 into Guatemala's
domestic legal system in a way that balances the need to attract
investment and jobs in extractive industries with the rights and
protections for indigenous people. Strengthening competition
policies, including through the adoption of the pending
competition law will be important to spur domestic investment and
improve Guatemala's attractiveness to foreign investors.

11. Revenue mobilization efforts need to continue, within the
context of an integral fiscal reform. A comprehensive tax reform
is needed to raise revenues to at least 15 percent of GDP. A
variety of tax policy changes will be needed including an increase
in the PIT rates (which could be frontloaded), a simplification of
the corporate income tax, higher indirect taxes, and redirecting
some existing tax deductions to improve health and pension
coverage. The resulting taxation system should be progressive, and
any regressive effects compensated via well-targeted social
spending (below). Tax reform efforts should be reinforced with
continued tax and custom administration efforts to fight tax
evasion, with a focus on reinforcing controls of the VAT with an
emphasis on risk-based auditing, strengthening the large-taxpayer
office management, improving the use of tax information to detect
and correct non-compliance, enhancing SAT's tax collection
executive faculties, including through better operationalization
of bank secrecy provisions, and tightening controls of ports and
the customs clearance process.

12. The additional revenues mobilized should be geared towards
high-impact projects in pursuit of the Sustainable Development
Goals. Such emblematic programs include increased coverage and
quality of pre-primary and secondary education; enhanced
preventive and primary health care; higher coverage of pensions,
particularly for the self-employed, to alleviate poverty of the
elderly; and improved coverage and targeting of the main cash
transfer program. Such social investments are expected to more-
than-offset any potential regressive effects arising from the
proposed tax reform. Clearly, given the amounts involved, any such
disbursements should hinge upon an improved coordination amongst
the line Ministries involved and be subject to systematic
evaluation as part of the annual budgetary exercise. The size of
the existing infrastructure gap could require some private sector
participation, for which it would be desirable to provide legal
certainty to private investors by consolidating the numerous
regulations currently existing in the sector.

13. As a complement to revenue mobilization, s pending needs to be
made more productive. Achieving this goal would ideally be helped
by scaling back the current earmarking of revenues and mandatory
spending floors. Couching spending objectives within a medium-term
budget framework, and greater accountability for outturns though
an ex-post evaluation of performance would be important objectives
in this respect. Labor-intensive health and education spending
needs to be made more effective, including by shifting the input
mix away from personnel costs and toward greater capital outlays.
Better aligning pay with performance in the provision of such
services and reforming current regulations of the Laws on the
Civil Service and Salaries in Public Administration will be
important milestones. Completing the public-sector personnel
census is a wise decision to make the hiring public officials more
transparent and to assess the cost of their salaries.

14. Tackling labor market informality will promote a fairer tax
and social protection system. High informality in Guatemala
results in low coverage for basic social protections, high
poverty, and low productivity. Addressing informality would be
facilitated by making the determination of the minimum wage more
predictable, and as with part-time pay, less binding; raising the
productivity of informal workers (by e.g., investment in rural
roads and irrigation in the poorest areas); fostering
apprenticeship schemes such as Mi Primer Empleo and other
vocational training programs, and making the self-employed
eligible for health and pension systems.

15. The financial system is well regulated and the time is ripe
for it further modernization. Banks are well capitalized, appear
to have sufficient liquidity, and nonperforming loans are low.
Sharp increases in interest rates or severe liquidity shocks in
U.S. dollar funding markets could challenge banks' resilience,
although such shocks would be absorbed within available capital
and liquidity buffers. Moreover, efforts are ongoing to buttress
banks' ability to withstand such shocks, including through a
requirement of supplemental capital for market risk and a
liquidity coverage requirement for foreign currency holdings. The
mission recommends further tightening of prudential requirements
on FX loans to unhedged borrowers if existing measures fall short.
More generally, circumstances seem appropriate for a gradual move
towards Basel III standards. Finally, the new banking law
currently with Congress, if passed, would strengthen the bank
resolution framework and reinforce depositor protection. The
initiative would introduce greater clarity regarding the triggers
of an effective resolution, as well as safeguards for the use of
public funds in the open-bank intervention scheme.

16. Improved governance is critical to durably raising investment.
A reference for the region, collaboration between the General
Prosecutor's office and the International Commission Against
Impunity in Guatemala has been effective in enhancing independent
investigation of acts of corruption. There is scope to strengthen
the integrity of the judiciary by enhancing the appointment
procedures for judges and magistrates (via reform of the Law and
Regulation for the Nominations Committee), effectively
implementing the merit-based system for the advancement of judges'
careers, and fully applying the sanctions system--as per the new
law on the judicial career. Online publication of judicial
decisions is another important step towards reinforcing legal
certainty. There is also room to strengthen the regime of asset
disclosures for public officials through a more coordinated
application, and stricter supervision, by the Comptroller's Office
within the framework of the Public Probity Law. An additional
step, to avoid conflict of interest and tackle illicit flows, is
to ensure transparency on the ultimate beneficial ownership of
corporate vehicles.

17. A stronger AML/CFT framework is paramount to support efforts
against corruption and organized crime. Adoption of a revised
AML/CFT bill, already endorsed in 2014 by the bank supervisor, the
private sector, and international organizations, would make it
more difficult to conceal proceeds of corruption and would deter
illicit flows. The bill and implementing regulations, when
established, would (i) expand the list of reporting entities to
include notaries and other non-financial businesses and
professionals, (ii) enhance preventive measures for reporting
entities, (iii) establish an obligation for financial institutions
to adopt a risk-based approach to managing and supervising risks
and a sound sanctioning regime for noncompliance, (iv) improved
protection for supervisors, and (v) enhance interaction between
the supervisor and law enforcement authorities. In addition, risk-
based AML/CFT supervision should be strengthened, both for offsite
and onsite activities. Lastly, additional consideration should be
given to reinforcing the supervisory framework of cooperatives.


JAMAICA: BOJ Records Decline in Counterfeit Currency Notes
RJR News reports that there has been a decline in the number of
counterfeit currency notes detected in circulation in Jamaica.

According to the Bank of Jamaica's annual report, the total number
of counterfeit notes detected during 2017 was 4,014, representing
a value of J$4.7 million, according to RJR News.

This was down from 4,517 pieces, valued at $4.9 million, in 2016,
the report notes.

The Bank of Jamaica says this was equivalent to 26 counterfeit
notes per one million genuine notes in active circulation in 2017,
relative to 32 pieces per million in 2016, the report relays.

Meanwhile, during last year 425.9 million notes, valued at $343.8
billion, were processed by the central bank, compared to 430.7
million notes, valued at $319.3 billion, in 2016, the report says.

Of the total number of notes processed, 84.7 per cent were deemed
fit for re-circulation, an increase of 0.5 percentage points
relative to 2016, the report notes.

Banknotes considered unfit to re-enter circulation and counterfeit
notes were destroyed, the report adds.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
Feb. 5, 2018, Fitch Ratings has affirmed Jamaica's Long-Term
Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'B' and has
revised the Rating Outlook to Positive from Stable.

JAMAICA: National Poverty Reduction Program Launched
RJR News reports that the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and
the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation morning launched
the National Poverty Reduction Program.

The program seeks to provide an accountability framework for
national efforts to reduce poverty in Jamaica, according to RJR

It will seek to empower persons through the strengthening of
economic livelihoods, human capital development, and addressing
psychosocial, cultural and normative factors that influence
poverty, the report notes.

The national program will also seek to strengthen basic rural and
urban community infrastructure and accelerate coordination and
capacity building among service providers, the report adds.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
Feb. 5, 2018, Fitch Ratings has affirmed Jamaica's Long-Term
Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'B' and has
revised the Rating Outlook to Positive from Stable.


Monday's edition of the TCR-LA delivers a list of indicative
prices for bond issues that reportedly trade well below par.
Prices are obtained by TCR-LA editors from a variety of outside
sources during the prior week we think are reliable.   Those
sources may not, however, be complete or accurate.  The Monday
Bond Pricing table is compiled on the Friday prior to publication.
Prices reported are not intended to reflect actual trades.  Prices
for actual trades are probably different.  Our objective is to
share information, not make markets in publicly traded securities.
Nothing in the TCR-LA constitutes an offer or solicitation to buy
or sell any security of any kind.  It is likely that some entity
affiliated with a TCR-LA editor holds some position in the
issuers' public debt and equity securities about which we report.

Tuesday's edition of the TCR-LA features a list of companies with
insolvent balance sheets obtained by our editors based on the
latest balance sheets publicly available a day prior to
publication.  At first glance, this list may look like the
definitive compilation of stocks that are ideal to sell short.
Don't be fooled.  Assets, for example, reported at historical cost
net of depreciation may understate the true value of a firm's
assets.  A company may establish reserves on its balance sheet for
liabilities that may never materialize.  The prices at which
equity securities trade in public market are determined by more
than a balance sheet solvency test.

Submissions about insolvency-related conferences are encouraged.
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S U B S C R I P T I O N   I N F O R M A T I O N

Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America is a daily newsletter
co-published by Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Fairless
Hills, Pennsylvania, USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Washington, D.C.,
USA, Marites O. Claro, Joy A. Agravante, Rousel Elaine T.
Fernandez, Julie Anne L. Toledo, Ivy B. Magdadaro, and Peter A.
Chapman, Editors.

Copyright 2018.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1529-2746.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
publication in any form (including e-mail forwarding, electronic
re-mailing and photocopying) is strictly prohibited without prior
written permission of the publishers.

Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to
be reliable, but is not guaranteed.

The TCR Latin America subscription rate is US$775 per half-year,
delivered via e-mail.  Additional e-mail subscriptions for members
of the same firm for the term of the initial subscription or
balance thereof are US$25 each.  For subscription information,
contact Peter A. Chapman at 215-945-7000.

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