The Jamaican economy grew by 0.5 per cent for the July to September 2011 quarter, driven by strong performances in agriculture, mining, and utilities.
With the increase in economic activity, real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to have increased 1.4 per cent for the first nine months of 2011.
Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica PIOJ, Dr. Gladstone Hutchinson, in reviewing the country’s performance for the quarter at a press conference at his Oxford Road offices today (Nov. 23), said that while this was the third consecutive quarter of growth, following the prolonged recession, it was less than the 1.6 per cent and the 2.1 per cent growth recorded respectively, for the January to March, and April to June quarters.
“This slowing down was somewhat anticipated…we had forecasted that the growth would be between 0.5 and 1.5 per cent, but the upper bounds of this growth was predicated on the reopening of the Kirkvine alumina plant…however developments in the global economy with respect to a protracted weakening of aggregate demand and falling prices have resulted in the postponement of plans for the reopening of the plant,” he explained.
The Director General noted that the growth was reflected in the positive out-turn in the goods producing industries, which registered an increase of 1.8 per cent. All categories recorded growth with the exception of manufacture, which declined by 0.2 per cent. Mining and quarrying registered the largest growth of 7.5 per cent, while agriculture, forestry and fishing; and construction grew by 2.5 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively.
All industries within the services industry grew, except transport, storage and communication, and finance and insurance, which declined by three per cent and one per cent, respectively, while real estate activities grew by 0.6 per cent.
Total electricity generation grew by 0.6 per cent, due to a 9.2 per cent increase in non- Jamaica Public Service (JPS) generation, which outweighed a 3.1 per cent decline in JPS’ gross electricity generation, while water production grew by 2.2 per cent.
Growth for the hotels and restaurants industry sector remained steady at 0.2 per cent, emanating from an estimated increase in the restaurant component. The hotel sub-industries declined, as evidenced by a 0.4 per cent decline in stopover arrivals. However, preliminary data indicate that total arrivals grew by 3.9 per cent, due largely to a 14.9 per cent increase in cruise passenger arrivals.
As it relates to other macroeconomic factors, inflation for the quarter was 2.1 per cent, with pressures primarily attributed to increased prices in food and non-alcoholic beverages, which was up 3.5 per cent, and communication, up by 3.1 per cent.
At the end of the quarter, the exchange rate was $86.30 per US$1.00, representing a nominal depreciation of 0.5 per cent, and real appreciation of 1.1 per cent.
By Alphea Saunders