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  • Jamaica’s economy grew by 0.3 per cent for the first quarter of the year, relative to the corresponding period in 2014, the country’s chief planning agency, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), is reporting.
  • Director General of the PIOJ, Colin Bullock, said the services sector was the main driver of growth for the quarter.
  • He was providing details of the country’s economic performance for the January to March 2015 period, at his Oxford Road offices in Kingston on May 20.

Jamaica’s economy grew by 0.3 per cent for the first quarter of the year, relative to the corresponding period in 2014, the country’s chief planning agency, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), is reporting.

Director General of the PIOJ, Colin Bullock, said the services sector was the main driver of growth for the quarter.

He was providing details of the country’s economic performance for the January to March 2015 period, at his Oxford Road offices in Kingston on May 20.

“The positive out-turn for the January to March 2015 period largely reflected the impact of the improved global economic environment, particularly on some of the major service industries (Hotels and Restaurants, and Transport, Storage and Communication),” he said.

The services industry is estimated to have increased by 0.6 per cent, with six of the eight service sectors recording growth during the review period. The industries registering the largest increases were Hotels and Restaurants (4.0 per cent); Other Services (1.5 per cent); and Transport, Storage and Communication (1.0 per cent).

However, the Electricity and Water Supply and Producers of Government Services industries recorded declines of 2.8 per cent and 0.2 per cent, respectively.

Highlighting other factors, which contributed to the economy’s growth,

Mr. Bullock pointed out that there was an improvement in domestic demand, resulting from the strengthening of both business and consumer confidence levels.

In addition, he pointed out that there was an intensification of road rehabilitation and repair works, new road construction and other building construction, including phase one and phase three of the north-south link of Highway 2000; as well as hotel construction and expansion, and construction of new office space to facilitate the expansion of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) activities.

In terms of the Goods Producing Industry, the Construction Industry, which increased by 1.4 per cent, was among those contributing to the growth of the economy.  However, the overall industry contracted by 0.7 per cent, with the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing and Manufacturing registering declines in real value added during the review quarter.

“The performance largely reflected the impact of the late start of the 2014/2015 sugar cane crop season as well as the continued contraction in the manufacturing industry.  The Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industry contracted by an estimated 0.5 per cent,” the PIOJ Director General explained.

Mr. Bullock pointed out that this was due to declines recorded for the traditional export crops, down 11.6 per cent, and post-harvest activities, down 4.8 per cent. However, other agricultural crops grew by 3.5 per cent.

“The fall-off in output for traditional export crops reflected mainly lower sugar-cane production, stemming from the late start of the crop year. This was largely attributed to significant upgrading activities at two major factories. This resulted in a

21.2 per cent decline in total sugar cane production,” he said.

Mr. Bullock revealed that low output was also recorded for banana, which declined 3.8 per cent, and cocoa, down 60.9 per cent, which reflected the lingering impact of drought conditions. Coffee production, however, increased by 12.6 per cent.

“The recovery in the other agricultural crops component was due to the impact of more favourable weather conditions on short-term crops. Forty-nine crop groups within this component recorded improvement,” he said.