20 quarters of positive growth

20 quarters of positive growth

PIOJ reports 0.9 per cent GDP growth for 2019

Business reporter

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in its latest review of economic performance has said that based on the continued stability of the macroeconomic environment, the outlook for the economy remains positive.

Speaking yesterday at its quarterly briefing and giving a review of the October to December 2019 period, Dr Wayne Henry, director general of the PIOJ, said that for the period real gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.1 per cent relative to the corresponding quarter in the previous year, representing some 20 consecutive quarters of growth in the economy.

“The Jamaican economy is estimated to have grown by 0.1 per cent for the October – December 2019 quarter bringing real GDP growth for calendar year 2019 to 0.9 per cent, representing the seventh consecutive year of economic growth,” he said. He cited improved out-turns in several industries as some of the main drivers of growth in contributing to this.

“The services industry was estimated to have grown by 1.6 per cent, outweighing an estimated 0.6 per cent contraction in the goods producing industry.

The industries registering the strongest growth during the year were hotels and restaurants (up 4.9 per cent), finance and insurance services (up 3.4 per cent), other services (up 1.9 per cent), and manufacturing (up 1.8 per cent),” the review outlined.

It also noted that the contraction of the goods producing industry within the quarter stemmed primarily from a decline in real value-added for mining and quarrying which contracted by 38.7 per cent due to the closure of the JISCO/ Alpart aluminum refinery and construction down 2.0 per cent.

A further decline was also tempered by growth in the agriculture, forestry & fishing industry up 3.0 per cent and manufacturing, up 0.4 per cent.

Henry highlighted that outside of improved growth seen in the different industries, the positive out turn for the period was also supported by several positive macroeconomic developments including the attainment of the lowest-ever unemployment rate (7.2 per cent) coupled with an uptick in consumer confidence levels which provided a boost to domestic demands and continued stability in the macroeconomic environment.

“The out-turn for the calendar year represents the highest annual level of economic activity ever recorded and reflects the sustained efforts of successive administrations in laying the foundation to achieving more robust and inclusive economic growth,” he said.

By way of outlook, the director general also shared that the performance in the final quarter of the fiscal year will be buoyed by continued growth in hotels and restaurants and finance and insurance services, naming the impacts of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and drought on the economy as possible downside risks.

“The outlook for fiscal year 2020/2021 is also positive with projected growth within the range of 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent with the main drivers of this growth being hotels and restaurants, agriculture, and construction industry,” he also stated.

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