29 April 2011

US$ 280 million bond sale for Turks & Caicos Islands


The Turks and Caicos Islands completed a roughly $280 million bond sale Tuesday that officials say aims to help the British dependency tackle a fiscal crisis. The Caribbean islands' London-appointed governor said the sale "buys us the time we need to tackle the dire fiscal legacy" inherited by his interim administration.

Britain imposed direct rule on Turks and Caicos in August 2009 after a probe into allegations that local leaders misused public money and profited from the sale of government-owned land. The local government and legislature were suspended.

Gov. Gordon Wetherell said the bond sale was the best option to give his administration a fixed interest rate and allow some "certainty over our future debt service." The bonds, with a fixed interest rate of 3.2 percent, will be fully payable on maturity in February 2016.

The bond sale does not provide additional funding for the islands' government, but replaces a $280 million bridge loan that was part of a $417 million rescue package approved by Britain earlier this year.

Wetherell said the bailout won't fund significant new expenditures or reverse spending cuts. It will only allow the financially struggling islands of roughly 23,000 people to bring spending and revenue in line, he said.

The islands are some 500 miles (800 kilometers) southeast of Florida.

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