JIS News

Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wesley Hughes, has projected a 0.7 per cent increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for January to March 2008, following flat growth of 0.0 per cent for the last quarter of 2007.
The services sector, he said, is expected to grow by 1.7 per cent, while the goods producing sector is expected to decline by about 0.8 per cent.
Dr. Hughes was speaking at the PIOJ’s quarterly media briefing at the organization’s Grenada Crescent offices in Kingston on Friday (Feb.15).
He attributed the flat growth for the October to December quarter to the effects of Hurricane Dean and heavy rains, which led to significant declines in agriculture, mining and quarrying, electricity and water.
In the area of agriculture, he said that the production of domestic crops decreased by 29. 6 per cent with export crops, primarily bananas and to some extent coffee, declining by some 62.4 per cent. Additionally, he said, livestock production decreased by 4.9 per cent. “This was largely due to the effects of Hurricane Dean. Production was also negatively affected by heavy rains during the period October to November,” Dr. Hughes informed.
The PIOJ head said that decreases in mining and quarrying, particularly alumina output, which fell by 5.9 per cent were due in large measure, to a downturn in production at the JAMALCO refinery in Clarendon. “Production levels at the JAMALCO refinery were reduced as Hurricane Dean damaged the port at Rocky Point (in Clarendon)” he stated, adding that crude bauxite output fell by six per cent due to heavy rains, which lashed the island between October and November.
In the meantime, manufacturing grew by 0.7 per cent, with food and beverage and tobacco recording growth of one per cent, while the other manufacturing group grew by 0.4 per cent. “The other manufacturing group was boosted by increased production in cement, aluminium sulphate, and paint,” Dr. Hughes advised.
Construction and installation also grew by 4.2 per cent, due primarily to increased activities related to construction, rehabilitation, and renovation activities, particularly in the tourism sector, where work on a number of hotel projects are being undertaken.
The financial and insurance services sector recorded growth of some four per cent compared to the corresponding period in 2006. “This was due to growth in the banking component, investment houses and premium and commission income from insurance companies,” Dr. Hughes outlined.
The distributive trade sector also figured positively during the period, recording a two per cent growth, which was attributed to higher sales during the period. This, according to Dr. Hughes, was spurred by increased loans and advances, remittances and expansion in imports between January and September 2007.
Another area, miscellaneous services, grew by an estimated 3.3 per cent, which Dr. Hughes explained, was mainly influenced by increased activities in hotels, restaurants, and clubs, which grew by 3.7 per cent.
Overall, Dr. Hughes said inflation for the period under review stood at 7.3 per cent, with the fiscal deficit at $18.6 billion, approximately $2.6 billion more than budgeted.

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