Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says Jamaica is recovering steadily from the economic fallout sparked by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, based on the out-turns of several key indicators.
Notable, he says, is growth of 14.2 per cent and 5.8 per cent in the April to June and July to September 2021 quarters, respectively, following an 18.4 per cent economic contraction in the April to June 2020 period.
The Prime Minister was delivering the keynote address at Tuesday’s (January 25) opening ceremony for the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) 17th semi-virtual Regional Investments and Capital Markets Conference, being held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
“By the end of September 2021, economic value-added was approximately six per cent below pre-pandemic levels. For the [fiscal] year ending March 2022, growth is projected to be in the seven to 10 per cent range. Now, that’s amazing, given the falloffs we had experienced,” he said.
Mr. Holness noted that the economic rebound has been occurring despite measures instituted to restrict COVID-19 transmission.
“That is precisely because the Government struck the right balance between preserving lives… [and] preserving livelihoods by crafting, structuring and scaling the measures [in] such [a way] that [activities in] our economy could continue,” he added.
The Prime Minister also highlighted several other positive and encouraging indicators.
These include stopover visitor arrivals rebounding in December 2021 to within 80 per cent of 2019 pre-pandemic levels, which, he noted, is “particularly outstanding” against the background of last year’s global number being at 38 per cent.
Mr. Holness pointed to the hotel and resort development boom resulting in approximately 8,000 new rooms being at varying stages of planning and completion and on course for delivery over the next five years.
He further noted that the overall construction industry has shown “tremendous” resilience in recording four consecutive quarters of growth, with increased activities in commercial and residential real estate developments.
Meanwhile, Mr. Holness commended the Ministry of Tourism and other industry stakeholders for their ability and resilience displayed during the pandemic.
He pointed out that Jamaica was among the first countries globally whose COVID-19 tourism protocols were endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council in June 2020, “only three months after our first case of COVID-19”.
The Prime Minister also highlighted the strength of the diaspora which, he noted, “is an important pillar of Jamaica’s resilience”.
“With our foreign exchange inflows from tourism being decimated, remittances from our diaspora have been invaluable in maintaining our Balance of Payments as well as our buoyant net international reserves, which stood at US$4 billion at December 31, 2021.
For January to November 2021, net remittance inflows increased by 22 per cent, relative to 2020,” he outlined.
The Prime Minister noted that Jamaica has also managed to maintain its sovereign debt ratings, which were recently reaffirmed by global agencies Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s.
Additionally, he said the business and consumer confidence indices, while still below pre-pandemic levels, have increased.
Mr. Holness pointed out that for the October to December 2021 quarter, business confidence was at its highest level since the start of the pandemic, while consumer confidence increased by 24 per cent.
“This is a very special year… . This is our 60th year of Independence. There can be no greater testament to our resilience and to how far we have come in our quest for economic independence than that we have managed to withstand the worst economic and health crisis that the world has faced in 100 years. We are recovering stronger,” he said.
The three-day event runs from January 25 to 27 under the theme ‘Positioning Capital for Growth: Facilitating, Mobilising and Expanding’.