JIS News

The Jamaican economy continues to show signs of improvement, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increasing by an estimated 2 per cent for the period January to March 2007, bringing real growth for the 2006/07 fiscal year to 2.5 per cent.
Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wesley Hughes, who made the announcement at the agency’s quarterly press briefing held today (May 15) at his offices in Kingston, said that the growth is expected to continue into the April to June quarter, with GDP to increase by 2.1 per cent, reflecting a 3.7 per cent increase in goods production and 1.2 per cent increase in services.
The key growth areas for the January to March quarter were construction and installation, which went up by 7 per cent, reflecting “a significant recovery from the outturn for the same quarter last year” while electricity and water went up by 4.7 per cent.
Electricity generation increased by 5.9 per cent, while water production went up by 0.2 per cent reflecting the net effect of a 5.9 per cent increase in production in the western region and a 3 per cent decline in the eastern division.
In addition, agriculture grew by 4 per cent, with domestic crop production increasing by 3.8 per cent; export production, 2.2 per cent; and livestock production, 2.9 per cent. This performance, Dr. Hughes said, reflected favourable weather conditions with some improvements in productivity as a result of the rehabilitation work that was undertaken by various agencies following the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005.
Growth of 0.8 per cent was recorded for mining and quarrying, with total bauxite production up by 1.5 per cent; crude bauxite production, 4.1 per cent; and alumina, by 0.6 per cent. “This growth was a result of increased capacity utilization as well as increased capacity in the alumina sector,” noted Dr. Hughes.
In terms of tourism, cruise visitor arrivals increased by 1.3 per cent, while total arrivals and stopover arrivals declined by 0.5 per cent 2.1 per cent, respectively, with overall visitor expenditure at US$469.69 million, which is a 1.5 per cent decline. Real GDP from hotels, restaurants and clubs also declined by 0.8 per cent.
“Stopover arrivals from the United States declined for most of the region, so we are trying to do a little more probing as to exactly why, as it cannot all be attributed to just tourist passport requirements,” the PIOJ Director told journalists. He noted however that there was “significant increase in arrivals in Cancun Mexico, which was recovering from very significant fallouts in the years before, from hurricanes. We saw spectacular increases in Cancun from the United States up by about 78 per cent.”
Other growth sectors were: real estate, 2.4 per cent; transport, storage and communication, 1.8 per cent; financing and insurance services, 1.8 per cent; distributive trade, 1.5 per cent; while manufacturing fell by 0.2 per cent as a result of a 33.3 per cent decline in rum and alcohol production.
In the meantime, inflation for the quarter was recorded at 1.0 per cent, with the main triggers being food and drink, up 0.8 per cent; housing and other housing expenses up 1.1 per cent; fuels and other household expenses up by 1.4 per cent and healthcare and personal expenses up by 2.9 per cent.
There was a fiscal surplus of $0.9 billion, which was $11.4 billion lower than budgeted. Revenue was $4.7 billion less than programmed and expenditure $6.7 billion more than budgeted.

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