Written by: Douglas McIntosh
Jamaica’s economy grew by an estimated 2.7 per cent during the January to March 2023 quarter.
This represents the eighth consecutive quarter of growth recorded, according to Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wayne Henry.
“The preliminary out-turn for the quarter resulted in growth of 4.3 per cent for Fiscal Year 2022/23 and represents full recovery in overall output levels from the impact of COVID-19, one year before the projected recovery date of Fiscal Year 2023/24,” he added.
Dr. Henry was speaking during the PIOJ’s semi-virtual quarterly media briefing, on Tuesday (May 30).
The Director General said the March 2023 out-turn largely reflected the impact of increased external demand, especially for Jamaica’s Tourism product.
This, he pointed out, was facilitated by the continued recovery in the economies of Jamaica’s main trading partners.
Dr. Henry further indicated that the March 2023 quarter out-turn also reflected the resumption of operations at the Jamalco Alumina plant in Clarendon during the July to September 2022 quarter, following the facility’s closure in August 2021, due to fire.
He said a breakdown of the out-turn shows that the Services Industry grew by an estimated 3.8 per cent. However, the Goods Producing Industry contracted by an estimated 0.7 per cent.
Dr. Henry pointed out that the Services Industry out-turn reflected growth in all subsectors, buoyed by those associated with travel and tourism.
Leading the way was ‘Hotels and Restaurants’, up 30.8 per cent, followed by ‘Transport, Storage and Communication’, up 4.3 per cent.
Positive out-turns were also recorded for ‘Finance and Insurance Services’, up one per cent; ‘Electricity and Water Supply’, up 0.7 per cent; and Wholesale and Retail Trade, Repair and Installation of Machinery (WRTRIM), up 0.5 per cent.
Conversely, only two of the four Goods Producing Industry subsectors, ‘Mining and Quarrying’ and ‘Manufacturing’, recorded growth.
Dr. Henry informed that ‘Mining and Quarrying’ grew by an estimated 95.9 per cent, due to higher alumina output, which outweighed a contraction in crude bauxite production.
“Alumina production grew by 197.1 per cent, due to the resumption of production at the Jamalco alumina plant. Crude Bauxite production declined by 33.2 per cent due to a falloff in demand,” he further stated, while pointing out that ‘Manufacturing’ grew by an estimated 0.7 per cent.
Dr. Henry indicated, however, that ‘Construction’ fell by four per cent, reflecting downturns in both the ‘Other Construction’ (civil works) and ‘Building Construction’, while the ‘Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing’ industry declined by an estimated 7.6 per cent, consequent on the impact of drought conditions.
Meanwhile, he said the growth prospects for the April to June 2023 quarter are “generally positive”.
Dr. Henry pointed out that the economy is projected to grow in the range of two to three per cent.
This, the Director General noted, is based on the continuation of the growth momentum in most industries.
“Specifically, growth during this period is expected to be driven by continued strengthening of the mining and quarrying industry, due to the resumption of full operations at the Jamalco Alumina plant; increased domestic demand, due to an estimated expansion in employment levels; and continued recovery in the global economy, despite the geopolitical challenges,” he told journalists.
Dr. Henry said the latter augurs well for a strengthening of external demand for Jamaica’s goods and services, particularly tourism.
He advised that the growth is projected on the one to three per cent range for Fiscal Year 2023/24.
“All industries are forecast to record growth, albeit at slower rates, as most would have fully recovered from the effects of COVID-19,” Dr. Henry said.