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  • Jamaica’s current account balance deficit fell by US$656.8 million for the first nine months of the 2015/16 fiscal year, ending December 2015, compared to the same period last year.
  • Co-Chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), Richard Byles, says Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) data showed that the 2015 figure stood at US$352 million.
  • He was speaking at EPOC’s monthly media briefing held recently at Sagicor Life Jamaica Limited’s head office in New Kingston.

Jamaica’s current account balance deficit fell by US$656.8 million for the first nine months of the 2015/16 fiscal year, ending December 2015, compared to the same period last year.

Co-Chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), Richard Byles, says Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) data showed that the 2015 figure stood at US$352 million.

He was speaking at EPOC’s monthly media briefing held recently at Sagicor Life Jamaica Limited’s head office in New Kingston.

Mr. Byles said the deficit for the December 2015 quarter stood at US$72.9 million. This was a US$294.7 million reduction, relative to the same period the previous year.

Meanwhile, the BoJ data also showed that net remittances for January to December 2015 totalled US$1.4 billion. This was US$47.8 million more than the inflows for the previous year.

Mr. Byles said net remittances for December 2015 increased by US$4.4 million, or 2.4 per cent, over the sum for 2014.

In the meantime, the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) is reporting that the rate of inflation continues to trend down.

Mr. Byles said data indicates that the cumulative rate for the 2016 calendar year declined by 1.2 per cent at the end of February.

He said a breakdown showed that January’s figure fell by 0.7 per cent while February’s outturn declined by 0.5 per cent.

Additionally, the EPOC Co-Chairman said the rate for 2015/16 fiscal year, up to the end of February, fell to 3.1 per cent, with “point to point” movement of 3.6 per cent.

Mr. Byles said the decline, particularly in February, was due mainly to “some recovery” recorded in agriculture, “which is making foods less expensive than before.”

This, he pointed out, resulted in a 0.9 per cent reduction in the prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Additionally, Mr. Byles said the decline also resulted from downward movements in costs and prices associated with housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, largely due to lower world oil prices.