The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is projecting that the economy will grow within the range of seven per cent to nine per cent during the April to June 2021 quarter.
Director General of the PIOJ, Dr. Wayne Henry, who made the announcement, said this outlook is based on “the commencement of the recovery process relative to the low output levels recorded in the corresponding period of 2020”.
Dr. Henry was speaking during a virtual media briefing on Wednesday (June 2).
The Director General noted as well that the projected growth will also be dependent on the relaxation of some coronavirus (COVID-19) containment measures relative to the lockdown, which occurred in the corresponding quarter of 2020.
In addition, he noted that the anticipated positive out-turn will also be based on increased domestic demand due to an expected expansion in employment levels.
“Preliminary data for the April to June 2021 quarter has indicated some positive movements which support this projection. Airport arrivals for April 2021 totalled approximately 83,000 visitors compared to none recorded in April 2020. Water Consumption for April 2021 grew by 2.2 per cent relative to April 2020,” he said.
Dr. Henry pointed out that a potential upside to this growth forecast is the extent to which the COVID-19 measures implemented globally are relaxed, given the increased pace of rollout of vaccination programmes.
“On the downside, the official commencement of the hurricane season in June poses a risk to economic performance as well as a slower than expected rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine globally and locally,” he said.
In the meantime, Dr. Henry informed that for the 2021/22 Fiscal Year, it is expected that the economy will grow within the range of four per cent to eight per cent.
“In addition to the factors expected to influence the April to June 2021 quarter, the performance of the fiscal year will be influenced by the gradual relaxation of measures globally that restrict the movement of persons as countries seek to attain herd immunity through continued rollout of vaccination programmes. This augurs well for the world economy and a strengthening of external demand for Jamaica’s goods and services,” he said.
In terms of employment prospects, he noted that the increase in economic activities will also support the strengthening of employment levels, with some industries expected to get closer to their pre-crisis levels.
According to the Labour Force Survey undertaken by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) for the month of January 2021, the unemployment rate was 8.9 per cent. This was 1.5 percentage points higher than the rate recorded in January 2020.
“Despite the relatively strong economic performance anticipated for this Fiscal Year, it should be noted that a full recovery to pre-crisis levels of gross domestic product (GDP) output is not anticipated until Financial Year 2023/24, while employment levels are expected to recover to pre-crisis levels in Financial Year 2022/23,” Dr. Henry said.