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  • Jamaica recorded third quarter growth of 1.4 per cent between October and December 2013, relative to the corresponding period in 2012.
  • Mining and quarrying recorded growth of 12 per cent, and agriculture, forestry and fishing, 10 per cent.
  • The Director General said growth in mining and quarrying reflected increased outputs for alumina and crude bauxite, driven by increased global demand for these products.

Led by strong performances in mining and agriculture, Jamaica recorded third quarter growth of 1.4 per cent between October and December 2013, relative to the corresponding period in 2012.

Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Collin Bullock, who made the disclosure at the institute’s quarterly media briefing on February 19, at its New Kingston offices, informed that mining and quarrying recorded growth of 12 per cent, and agriculture, forestry and fishing, 10 per cent, to lead 10 of the 12 sectors which performed positively during the period.

Other sectors which recorded growth included: hotels and restaurants – 5.6 per cent; construction – 2 per cent; electricity and water – 1.1 per cent; transport, storage and communication – 1 per cent; real estate, rental and business activities – 0.1 per cent; and financing and insurance services; wholesale and retail trade; and repair and installation of machinery – 0.2 per cent each.

Despite declines in manufacturing, down 0.7 per cent, and producers of government services, down 0.5 per cent, the Director General said overall economic performance for the quarter saw the goods producing industry growing by four per cent, and the services industry, 0.6 per cent.

Mr. Bullock told journalists that the outturn for the quarter largely reflected increased external demand for some Jamaican products, namely bauxite and alumina, and tourism services; increased construction related activities, including road works, residential and hotel construction; improved productivity and outputs in agriculture, and improved weather conditions.

These, he added, were supported by “relatively” favourable “but still challenging global economic conditions.”

The Director General said growth in mining and quarrying reflected increased outputs for alumina and crude bauxite, driven by increased global demand for these products.

“Alumina production grew by 15.5 per cent, reflecting increased production by JAMALCO, up 7.6 percent, and WINDALCO Ewarton, up 38.8 per cent. Crude bauxite production grew by 2.9 per cent, reflecting an expansion in global demand for the product. This resulted in an increase in the Bauxite Capacity Utilization Rate by 2.5 percentage points to 92 per cent,” he explained, pointing out that the alumina capacity utilization rate at both plants averaged over 95 per cent.

Mr. Bullock said growth in agriculture, forestry and fishing resulted from the effects of improved weather conditions and growth-inducing initiatives implemented by the Government.

“The industry benefitted from specific programmes such as Hurricane Sandy Recovery and Drought Mitigation as well as increased output associated with the operations of the agro parks. During the review quarter, other agricultural crops grew by 10.6 per cent with increased output in all nine crop groups. Traditional export crops increased by 25.7 per cent, and were spurred by a 57.4 per cent increase in banana production, largely reflecting recovery from the impact of Hurricane Sandy,” he outlined.

The Director General informed that increased building construction activities were due largely to an expansion in residential construction, pointing out that mortgages increased by 3.3 per cent, relative to the corresponding quarter of 2012. Additionally, housing starts increased by 50 per cent.

He said growth in other construction activities was due primarily, to increased expenditure on civil engineering, including  $8.3 billion disbursed by the National Road Operating and Construction Company (NROCC) on the North-South leg of Highway 2000;  $3 billion allocated by Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) on work largely associated with construction and installation activities related to power generation and distribution; and $2.8 billion earmarked by the National Water Commission (NWC) for projects, representing an 8.5 per cent increase

He indicated that growth in hotels and restaurants was influenced by an estimated 7.2 per cent growth in stopover arrivals, due to increased visitors from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Latin America.

Mr. Bullock noted that overall growth for the 2013 calendar year was “relatively flat” at 0.1 per cent, compared to contraction of 0.5 per cent recorded in 2012.

The Director General said the PIOJ is projecting fourth quarter growth for the January to March 2014 period, to range between one and two per cent. He advised that most industries are expected to grow with agriculture, mining, and construction projected to record the strongest growth.

He added that the overall growth outturn for the 2013/14 fiscal year is projected to range between 0.5 and 1.5 per cent.