- The government is confident of continued growth for the third and fourth quarters of fiscal year 2013/14.
- This is based on the administration’s implementation of the country’s economic programme.
- The projected growth rate for the fiscal year is between 0.7 and one per cent, and this could reach 1.5 per cent next year.
Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says the government is confident of continued growth for the third and fourth quarters of fiscal year 2013/14.
This, he says, is based on the administration’s implementation of the country’s economic programme, approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), under an Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
Addressing members of the Diplomatic Corps at the Courtleigh Hotel, New Kingston, on Wednesday, February 5, Dr. Phillips said that coming from the 0.5 per cent economic growth recorded for the July to September quarter, “we expect that the rate of growth to have increased for the (October to December) quarter and project an even greater increase for the current (January to March) quarter.”
The projected growth rate for the fiscal year is between 0.7 and one per cent, and this could reach 1.5 per cent next year, Dr. Phillips stated. Growth for the 2013 calendar year amounted to about 0.1 per cent.
In relation to anticipated fourth quarter growth, Dr. Phillips said this is expected to be driven mainly by expansion in agriculture which “has grown at more than five per cent (per annum).”
Additionally, he said mining, tourism, construction, and other services such as business process outsourcing (BPO), are also expected to contribute “significantly” to growth during the period.
Dr. Phillips informed that revenue for January to March has been on target, and the fiscal deficit targets have been maintained. He informed that “we have reduced the deficit (for central government)…this year, from 4.5 per cent, which it was in last year’s budget, to 0.5 per cent, and we expect to have a balanced budget in the next fiscal year.”
Regarding the external accounts, Dr. Phillips indicated that “as was intended by the programme”, there has been a “sharper” than anticipated improvement in the current account deficit, “where we were running a current account deficit of about 12 per cent, and it’s down to about 10 per cent for the fiscal year.”
“As a consequence…we have had a sharper than programmed improvement in our net international reserves (NIR), which stood at a little over US$1 billion at the end of 2013, covering 12 weeks of imports,” he informed.
In relation to Jamaica’s debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio, Dr. Phillips reported that this is “on a firm downward trajectory,” adding that “I expect that by the end of this (2013/14) fiscal year, we will have the debt…below 140 per cent of GDP.”
Under the EFF and the economic programme, the debt, which was reported to be approaching 147 per cent to GDP prior to the agreement, is targeted to fall below 100 per cent by 2020.
The Minister indicated that “in real terms, all programme targets have been met” thus far, since the government signed the EFF with the IMF in May 2013.
Dr. Phillips’ address to members of the Diplomatic Corps formed part of activities marking Diplomatic Week 2014 from February 2 to 7, under the theme: ‘Partnership for Growth’.