JIS News

The Bank of Jamaica and the Planning Institute of Jamaica have indicated that Jamaica’s trade deficit has improved for the first time since the 1978/79 fiscal year. This was disclosed on Monday (Feb. 21) at the start of the two-day Cabinet Retreat at Jamaica House.
The report to the Cabinet further revealed that the Net International Reserves stood at US$1.82 Billion while it was expected that reserves would end the fiscal year at US$1740 Million with gross reserves of US$1760 Million. This represents 17.6 weeks of imported goods and services.
In the meantime, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in his opening statement to the retreat said that balancing the 05/06 Budget was a major goal of the Government to which it remains fully committed. “This goal had to be achieved in order to ensure the steady downward movement of interest rates, forestall any pressure on the exchange rate and reduce the costs of further borrowing,” the Prime Minster stated.
In reviewing the economic performance of the country for the period January to October of the current fiscal year, he noted that the year proved challenging in light of Hurricane Ivan, increasing oil prices and the drought now affecting agriculture, but that despite all of this, the economy had performed as well as could be expected.
The Prime Minister added that the flow of investments remains healthy and a number of projects had been completed or substantially advanced.
Other economic indicators presented at the Cabinet retreat show that core inflation for the fiscal year to January 2005 was 4.4 per cent, relative to the 7.2. per cent for the corresponding period of 2003/04. Similarly, the 12-month point to point measure at January 2005 was 5.1 per cent relative to 8.2 per cent at January 2004. Inflation for the fiscal year is expected to be in the range of 10.8 to 11.8 per cent.

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