Director general of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) Dr Wayne Henry says that the longer the Jamaican economy takes to recover from the novel coronavirus pandemic could create what he describes as a “permanent scarring”.
Explaining the situation, he said that it would lead to the closure of more businesses and fewer people continuing their job-seeking activities, creating a situation in which the most vulnerable Jamaicans would be disproportionately impacted.
Dr Henry told Parliament's Economy and Production Committee at Gordon House yesterday that the resurgence of the novel coronavirus and the reimposition of public health and social measures (PHSM) remain the main downside risk to growth at this time.
“The pace of recovery will depend on Jamaicans observing the protocols, continuing the dialogue, and working together to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business,” he suggested.
His presentation titled 'The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Jamaica's economy (with special focus on the real sector and labour market performances)' was focused on providing information on the pandemic and its impact on the economy and production.
He pointed out that COVID-19 and the PHSMs implemented to stem the spread of the virus continue to have a significant negative impact on the lives and livelihood of people, especially in service-oriented economies like Jamaica.
He said that to bring the pandemic to an end a large share of the world's population needs to be immunised. However, he said that the exact share required is still under study, given the new variants of the virus and their implication for how transmittable the virus is.
“The safest way to bring the pandemic under control is through vaccines. To understand the importance of vaccines and its potential impact on economy recovery it is important to understand the evolution of the COVID-19 and the PHSMs implemented to stem its spread,” he added.
Dr Henry also noted that the main drivers of growth this year include hotels and restaurants, which were estimated to have grown by 334.6 per cent; other services, up 23.2 per cent; installation of machinery and equipment, which grew by 19.3 per cent; construction, which went up by 17.4 per cent; and transport and storage, which grew by 13.9 per cent.
Chairman of the committee, Juliet Holness, told the meeting in her opening remarks that she welcomed the submissions from the presenters, which also included the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Jamaica Employers' Federation, the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
She noted that many Jamaicans were still not at a place st which they are able to appreciate what the pandemic has done to the country over the past two years.
For example, she said that she did not think that many employees who are hesitant about being vaccinated understand the implications that it has for businesses, “including those that continue to pay them and continue to ensure their survival”.
“And so we thought that it was necessary for us to have a session like this [today] so that we could reach out to the wider Jamaica,” she told the presenters.
“I hope that coming out of these discussions today more and more Jamaicans will understand... each and every one of us [has] to protect the economy to protect ourselves, because we are all a part of the process,” she said.