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  • Jamaica recorded an estimated growth of 1.6 per cent between January and March 2014, relative to the corresponding period of 2013.
  • PIOJ Director General, Colin Bullock, said the performance represented the third consecutive quarter of growth.
  • Mr. Bullock informed that the goods-producing industry and services sector increased by 5.6 per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively.

Jamaica recorded an estimated growth of 1.6 per cent between January and March 2014, relative to the corresponding period of 2013.

The sectors of agriculture and mining and quarrying recorded the highest growth during the period.

Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Colin Bullock, made the disclosure at the institute’s quarterly media briefing on May 15, at its New Kingston offices.

He said the performance represented the third consecutive quarter of growth and reflected the continued strengthening of economic performance by most industries.

Mr. Bullock informed that the goods-producing industry and services sector increased by 5.6 per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively.

Within the goods-producing industry, all categories increased, except manufacturing, which went down 0.3 per cent.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries registered the largest increase of 18.0 per cent, followed by Mining and Quarrying, which was up by 8.0 per cent and Construction, up 0.5 per cent.

For the Services sector, growth was recorded for all entities, except for Producers of Government Services, which went down by 0.2 per cent.

The transport, storage and communication sector grew by 0.5 per cent; electricity and water grew by 0.4 per cent; wholesale and retail trade, 0.2 per cent; finance and insurance services, 0.3 per cent; real estate, renting and business services, 0.3 per cent; hotels and restaurants, 0.4 per cent; and other services, 0.5 per cent.

Mr. Bullock informed that the out-turn for the quarter largely reflected increased external demand for some Jamaican goods and services; improved weather conditions; initiatives aimed at improving productivity and output in agriculture; and increased business and consumer confidence relative to the first quarter of 2013.

“Performance during the quarter was supported by an improvement in global economic conditions. For the review period there was an increased contribution of Advanced Economies towards global growth, driven primarily by the performance of the United States of America, which recorded real GDP growth of 2.3 per cent,” he said, adding that Output levels of Emerging Market and Developing Economies also continued to increase, pushed largely by China, which grew by 7.4 per cent.

The Director General informed that the out-turn was also supported by increased private consumption, higher investment levels and an expansion in exports.  He said the impact of these developments on the country was primarily manifested in higher demand for the export of goods and services.

“However, lower commodity prices, primarily for metals, dampened the growth in export earnings,” he added.

Mr. Bullock said during the review period, growth in agriculture, forestry and fishing resulted from improved weather conditions and growth inducing initiatives implemented by the government.

“Other Agricultural Crops (formerly referred to as Domestic Crops) grew by 14.7 per cent with increased output in eight of the nine crop groups, driven by: plantains (up 198.7 per cent); potatoes (up 35.5 per cent); and fruits (up 25.1 per cent). Traditional export crops increased by 61.5 per cent, and reflected strong increases for Bananas (up 231.6 per cent); Cocoa (up 260.8 per cent); and Sugarcane (up 12.8 per cent),” he said noted.

The Director General noted that growth in mining and quarrying reflected increased output for alumina, as lower output was recorded for crude bauxite.

“Alumina production grew by 11.4 per cent reflecting improved output by Jamalco, up 10.5 per cent and WINDALCO Ewarton, up 13.5 per cent. The higher output for alumina was driven by increased demand globally,” he said.

The Director General informed that the growth in construction was due to an expansion in the non-residential component associated with increased hotel construction, which outweighed an estimated decline in the residential subcategory.

“The higher output for Food, Beverages & Tobacco was spurred by increased production of Poultry Meat (up 5.7 per cent); Sugar (up 7.3 per cent) and Molasses (up 36.9 per cent),” he pointed out.

Mr. Bullock said inflation for the review quarter was 1.7 per cent, adding that the main contributors were housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (up 3. 8 per cent); food and non-alcoholic beverages (up 1.0 per cent); and miscellaneous goods and services (up 2. 6 per cent).

He noted that for the fiscal year 2013/14, real GDP grew by an estimated 0.9 per cent. “This compares favourably with a contraction in GDP of 0.7 per cent recorded for Fiscal Year 2012/13,” he said.