JIS News

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is reporting that Jamaica's short-term economic prospects are generally positive, with growth in the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expected for this year.

At the PIOJ's quarterly press briefing at the Institute, today (May 20), Acting Director General of the PIOJ, Dr. Pauline Knight, said that the improvement in the global economy, the support Jamaica is enjoying from the multilateral agencies, and the reforms being undertaken, should help the country to achieve GDP growth within the range of 0.0 to 1.0 per cent during the April to June quarter of 2010.

"There is expectation of continued growth in agriculture and tourism and a turnaround in some industries, which were most seriously affected by the global economic recession, such as mining and quarrying, transport, storage and communication," she explained. Dr. Knight noted that the turnaround in the mining sector will be bolstered by the re-opening of Windalco's Ewarton plant, in St. Catherine.

Director of the Economic Planning and Research Division of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Christine Clarke (left), examines her notes during the PIOJ's quarterly media briefing today (May 20), at its offices in New Kingston. Seated beside her are Acting Director General of the PIOJ, Dr. Pauline Knight (centre) and Manager of the PIOJ's Economic Planning and Research Division, James Stewart.

She said the PIOJ is also predicting that there will be continued improvement in remittance and exports.

However, she cautioned that the forecast could be affected by shocks to the global economy as well as the risks associated with the upcoming hurricane season and possible increases in world oil prices.

For the 2009/10 fiscal year, real GDP declined by an estimated 2.3 per cent, with real GDP declining by 1.4 per cent during the March 2010 quarter. The agriculture, forestry and fishing; electricity and water supply; and hotel and restaurants were the lead sectors in terms of growth during the quarter.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing recorded a 2.5 per cent growth, with the main growth areas being traditional export crops, fishing and animal farming. However, other agricultural crops declined by 1.4 per cent due largely to the effects of drought.

Director of the Economic Planning and Research Division of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Christine Clarke (left), speaking at the PIOJ's quarterly media briefing, today (May 20), at its offices in New Kingston, while Acting Director General of the PIOJ, Dr. Pauline Knight, looks on.

Growth in the electricity and water supply sector was estimated at 2.0 per cent and resulted from an increase in electricity generation, while the 6.0 per cent growth in the hotels and restaurants was a result of increased visitor arrivals.

The PIOJ lists mining and quarrying; manufacture; construction; and transport, storage and communication as the main detractors to the country's growth in the last quarter.

Turning to the other macro-economic highlights of the March 2010 quarter, Dr. Knight noted that remittance flows amounted to US$452.3 million, an increase of 9.7 per cent, compared with the corresponding period last year. Total imports for January 2010 amounted to US$400.9 million, an 18.8 per cent decline, while exports increased by 6.9 per cent to US$117 million.

Inflation for the review quarter was 4.1 per cent and was due largely to increases in transportation costs, food and non-alcoholic beverages and the new tax package that came into effect on January 1, 2010.

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