JIS News

Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wesley Hughes is projecting a 2.6 per cent growth in the Jamaican economy for the January to March quarter of 2004.
According to the Director General, the PIOJ is also projecting a 3.4 and 2.1 per cent growth for the goods producing and service sectors respectively, in the first quarter of this year.
He pointed out that preliminary figures for Tourism have indicated that stopover arrivals for January increased by 6 per cent, while cruise passenger arrivals increased by nearly 5 per cent to 124,650 visitors.
Additionally, the PIOJ Head noted that Mining and Quarrying grew by 10.4 per cent in January, resulting from a 17.4 per cent increase in crude bauxite production and 10.8 per cent growth in alumina production.
Dr. Hughes was addressing journalists on February 16 at the PIOJ’s first quarterly briefing for the year.
For fiscal year 2003/04, Dr. Hughes said the expectation was that there would be growth within the range of 2 to 3 per cent in the economy. “We expect that the general stable monetary and exchange rate conditions will hold and interest rates will continue to trend down during the March quarter,” he said.
The Director General said that inflation was expected to decelerate relative to the two previous quarters of 2003/04, but warned that there could be inflationary risks from higher fuel prices and the resultant increases in utility costs.
In the meantime, the PIOJ Head observed that the Jamaican economy recorded an estimated 2.3 per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the 2003 calendar year.
Main growth sectors for the economy included finance and insurance services, contributing 5.6 per cent; mining and quarrying, 4.9 per cent; electricity and water, 4.8 per cent; and agriculture and miscellaneous services, 5.1 per cent each.
For the final quarter of the 2003 calendar year, the PIOJ Head reported that real GDP grew by an estimated 2.5 per cent relative to the corresponding period in 2002.
Dr. Hughes noted that growth in the economy took place against the background of relative stability in the foreign exchange market during the period, and an inflation rate of 3.4 per cent during the quarter.
The main areas of growth during the October to December quarter included the agricultural, forestry and fishing sectors; mining and quarrying; manufacturing and miscellaneous services, which included the tourism sub-sector.
The manufacturing sector recovered significantly during the period, from its relatively flat performance recorded for most of 2003. The sector experienced a growth of 3.8 per cent attributed mainly to a 6.6 per cent growth in the food, beverage and tobacco sub-sector during the December quarter.

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