JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is reporting that the economy grew by an estimated 1.5 per cent during the January to March 2019 quarter, with projections for up to two per cent growth for April to June.
  • Director General, Dr. Wayne Henry, said that the first-quarter calendar year resulted from an estimated 1.8 per cent increase in the goods producing industry, and 1.5 per cent growth in services.
  • He said there was greater demand from Jamaica’s main external trading partners for some goods and services, particularly in tourism and alumina; and heightened domestic demand spurred by increased employment, and business and consumer confidence.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is reporting that the economy grew by an estimated 1.5 per cent during the January to March 2019 quarter, with projections for up to two per cent growth for April to June.

Director General, Dr. Wayne Henry, said that the first-quarter calendar year resulted from an estimated 1.8 per cent increase in the goods producing industry, and 1.5 per cent growth in services.

He said there was greater demand from Jamaica’s main external trading partners for some goods and services, particularly in tourism and alumina; and heightened domestic demand spurred by increased employment, and business and consumer confidence.

Dr. Henry said the increased demand for goods and services was facilitated by expansion in hotel room stock, air seat capacity and flight frequency, which spurred growth in stopover arrivals.

There washigher capacity utilisation, particularly in mining and quarrying; an uptick in loans and advances to the private sector; and major infrastructure works, including road rehabilitation and expansion projects, construction and renovation of hotels and residential and commercial buildings.

“The preliminary data presented on the performance for the January to March 2019 quarter indicate that the economy has continued to strengthen, recording the 17th consecutive quarter of growth. This out-turn, if it materialises, would bring the growth rate for fiscal year 2018/19 to 1.9 per cent, the strongest fiscal year growth since 2006/07,” he noted.

Dr. Henry was speaking at the PIOJ’s quarterly media briefing at the Institute’s head office in New Kingston on Wednesday (May 22).

He said mining and quarrying, hotels and restaurants, and construction were top-performing sectors during the review period.

Mining and Quarrying dominated the goods producing industry with an estimated 10 per cent out-turn.

This resulted from 12.7 per cent increase in alumina production, which outweighed the seven per cent fall in crude bauxite output.

Construction, Dr. Henry informed, grew by an estimated 3.5 per cent, largely reflecting activity in building and “other” infrastructure developments.

“Growth in the building construction component was due to increases in residential and non-residential construction, reflecting an increase of 186.8 per cent in housing starts by the National Housing Trust (NHT), to 4,337 units; and an increase in the volume (up 10.5 per cent) and value (up 18.3 per cent) of mortgages disbursed by the NHT,” he outlined.

The Director General pointed out that growth in “other” construction resulted from higher capital expenditure by the National Works Agency (NWA), which disbursed $6.4 billion on road construction and rehabilitation, relative to $3 billion in the corresponding quarter in 2018; and Jamaica Public Service Company, which disbursed $1.8 billion, relative to $1.7 billion last year.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing grew by an estimated 0.2 per cent, and manufacturing declined by 0.8 per cent.

Meanwhile, hotels and restaurants, with a seven per cent out-turn, dominated the services industry.

This, Dr. Henry pointed out, largely reflected increased foreign national arrivals from Jamaica’s primary source market,the United States.

He indicated that total stopover arrivals increased by 13.3 per cent to 708,297 visitors.

“Total visitor expenditure is estimated to have grown by 11.5 per cent to US$945 million, of which stopover visitor expenditure increased by 13 per cent to US$880.9 million,” the Director General added.

Electricity and water supply grew by an estimated 2.1 per cent; transport, storage and communication, up1.5 per cent; wholesale and retail, repair and installation of machinery, up 1.3 per cent; finance and insurance, up 0.9 per cent; and real estate, renting and business activities, up 0.8 per cent.

Dr. Henry said the growth prospects for the April to June 2019 quarter are “generally positive”, with baseline growth projected to be in the range of one to two per cent.

The growth is expected to be spurred by expansion in construction, reflecting an anticipated increase in housing starts and non-residential building construction, and increased civil engineering activities associated with road construction and rehabilitation; hotels and restaurants, reflecting increased visitor arrivals, and increased room stock consequent on the expansion of existing properties and construction of new hotels.

“Preliminary data indicate that airport arrivals increased by 13 per cent for the month of April,” the Director General informed.

Additionally, he said the projection is expected to reflect growth in mining and quarrying, specifically alumina production, due to higher capacity utilisation, particularly at the Alpart refinery in Nain. St. Elizabeth.

It is estimated that alumina production during April increased by 11.5 per cent.

Growth for 2019/20 is projected to be in the range of one to two per cent, with the main goods producing industry drivers being agriculture, forestry and fishing; mining and quarrying; and construction.

The main services industry drivers are expected to be hotels and restaurants; transport, storage and communication; and “other” industries, Dr. Henry said.

As it relates to the 1.9 per cent growth for the 2018/19 fiscal year, Dr. Henry said that the main drivers were the goods producing industry with a 4.7 per cent out-turn, and services,one per cent.

The industries recording the largest growth during the period were: mining and quarrying, up 28.5 per cent; agriculture, forestry and fishing – up 4.1 per cent; construction – up 3.5 per cent; and hotels and restaurants – up 3.1 per cent.