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Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says the 14 per cent growth in the services industry for the April to June quarter heightens the prospect of sooner-than-anticipated recovery from the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Planning Institute of Jamica (PIOJ) reported that the industry’s turnout largely spurred a turnaround in the economy, which grew by an estimated 12.9 per cent during the quarter, with the goods producing industry expanding by approximately 7.8 per cent.

Dr. Clarke noted that the out-turn “is certainly a stronger start than most of our peer countries, which have already reported for the April-June period”.

Consequent on the development, he said, “we were able to table a $33-billion Supplementary Budget, because the economy grew at a faster clip than anyone had expected”.

He was speaking during Wednesday’s (October 6) final day of the two-day 2021 Customer Service Excellence digital conference.

The event was jointly hosted by the Jamaica Customer Service Association (JaCSA) and the Office of the Cabinet’s Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation Division, under the theme ‘You…Me…We Got the Power of Service Excellence!’.

Dr. Clarke said it is imperative that the service industry recover if Jamaica is to record sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19.

This, he noted, as the services economy, which incorporates sectors such as tourism, and food and retail services that were adversely impacted, account for approximately 75 per cent of the country’s economic output, based on data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).

“So, as we focus on recovery, we have to make sure that [the] service [subsectors] and the people employed in them experience the recovery that we are working towards,” the Minister said.

Dr. Clarke said that also encouraging for Jamaica is S&P Global Ratings’ affirmation of the country’s ‘B+’ credit rating and revision of its outlook for the economy from ‘Negative’ to ‘Stable’.

He pointed out that Jamaica is among the few countries in the region that were able to retain their rating during “the worst economic crisis that we have seen in our lifetime”.

The Minister said the upgraded outlook, coming 18 months after the pandemic’s onset, and during a time when the government revenue declined by more than $70 billion, is indicative of the global rating agency’s expectation for economic recovery to continue and gather momentum, and “for government finances to improve to the extent where we can record a surplus for this year”.

Dr. Clarke said, further, that this scenario “provides the platform on which the public sector can continue to deliver sterling and outstanding customer service to the people of Jamaica”.

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