Jamaica’s economy is estimated to have grown by 5.2 per cent for the first nine months of 2022, from January to September.
Director General, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wayne Henry, said the growth reflects positive performance for the Services industry, up 6.7 per cent, and the Goods Producing Industry, up 0.6 per cent.
He pointed out that all industries, except ‘Mining and Quarrying’, and ‘Construction’, recorded growth.
Dr. Henry said the ‘Hotels and Restaurants’ subsector was the main growth driver, up 58.2 per cent, and ‘Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing’, up 9.8 per cent.
He was speaking during the PIOJ’s digital quarterly media briefing on Wednesday (November 23).
Meanwhile, the economy is estimated to have expanded by 4.3 per cent for the July to September quarter, largely due to the impact of the removal of COVID-19 containment measures globally, which facilitated increased domestic and external demand.
The review quarter’s out-turn was driven by an estimated 4.7 per cent expansion in Services, and a 3.2 per cent growth in the Goods Producing Industry.
Dr. Henry said the Services Industry’s out-turn was led by the Hotels and Restaurants subsector, which grew by and estimated 29.6 per cent.
This, he indicated, was spurred by a 42 per cent increase in stopover visitor arrivals in July and August.
“Of note, stopover arrivals for… August… was 218,849, representing the highest on record for any August, and signals a return to pre-COVID monthly arrival levels. Cruise passenger arrivals totalled 156,609 in July [and] August, relative to 3,496 in the corresponding period of 2021,” the Director General further informed.
Visitor expenditure was estimated to have increased by 49.5 per cent to US$692.8 million for July and August, relative to the corresponding period in 2021.
The out-turns for the other subsectors were ‘Wholesale and Retail Trade’, up 7.5 per cent; Repair and Installation of Machinery, up 7.5 per cent; ‘Electricity and Water Supply’, up 3.8 per cent;
‘Transport, Storage and Communication’, up 3.6 per cent; and ‘Finance and Insurance Services’, up one per cent.
For the Goods Producing Industry, there were improved performances in two of the four subsectors – ‘Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing’, up 15.4 per cent and ‘Manufacturing’, which rose by an estimated 3.5 per cent.
‘Mining and Quarrying’ declined by 30.4 per cent due to reductions in alumina and crude bauxite production, and ‘Construction’ fell by 2.2 per cent, due to falloffs in capital expenditure on civil engineering.
Dr. Henry said the contractions stemmed from a decrease in the NWA’s disbursement from $9.1 billion to $5.9 billion over the corresponding periods, as well as a decline in the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) allocation, from $1.9 billion to $1.8 billion.
“[The NWA’s] expenditure was primarily for projects associated with Part B of the South Coast Highway Improvement Project, which is scheduled to be completed in March 2023. [The JPS’s] expenditure… was for the construction and installation activities related to the generation and distribution of power,” the Director General outlined.
He pointed out, however, that the ‘Building Construction’ segment recorded a positive out-turn, driven mainly by performance of the residential component, supported by a 103 per cent increase in housing starts by the National Housing Trust (NHT), and a 23.9 per cent rise in the value of mortgages disbursed.
Dr. Henry said the prospects for the economy in the short to medium term are generally positive.
This, he pointed out, given the impact of the removal of the previously implemented COVID-19 containment measures.
Dr. Henry said this will continue to support the expansion of economic activities in most industries, adding that increased employment levels will also result in greater domestic demand.
“Within this context, economic growth is anticipated for the remainder of this calendar and fiscal year. For October to December 2022, it is projected that the economy will grow within a range of 2.5 to 3.5 per cent, resulting in a calendar year growth (January to December 2022) in the range of four to five per cent. For fiscal year 2022/23, the projection is for growth within the range of 3.5 to 4.5 per cent,” he indicated.