Kingston – Jamaica’s economy grew by an estimated six per cent for the October to December 2021 quarter, relative to the corresponding period the previous year.
This was driven by increases of 7.8 and 0.4 per cent, respectively, in the Services and Goods Producing Industries, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) reports.
The out-turn also represents the third consecutive period of growth recorded, dating back to the June 2021 quarter, which analysts suggest is a strong signal that Jamaica’s recovery from the economic fallout, sparked by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, is under way.
Speaking during the PIOJ’s digital quarterly media briefing on Wednesday, the PIOJ’s Director-General Dr Wayne Henry said the out-turn at the end of December 2021 largely reflected the continued relaxation of COVID-19 containment measures globally, which facilitated increased domestic and external demand, resulting in a general uptick in economic activities.
He said the figure also reflected increased operating hours for businesses, which facilitated higher production rates, higher levels of employment, and increased business and consumer confidence.
All five services industry subsectors recorded growth, led by Hotels and Restaurants, with an estimated 76.2 per cent.
Next best was Wholesale and Retail Trade, Repair and Installation of Machinery, up 9.6 per cent; Transport, Storage and Communication, up eight per cent; Electricity and Water Supply, up 5.7 per cent; and Finance and Insurance Services, up two per cent.
Henry said the Hotels and Restaurants subsector’s performance was largely spurred by a 186.3 per cent increase in stopover visitor arrivals and 32 719 cruise passengers from 24 ships visiting in October and November 2021.
“Total visitor expenditure was estimated to have increased by 48.1 per cent to US$379.7 million for the months of October and November 2021, compared with the corresponding period of 2020,” the Director-General further informed.
He said the subsector also benefited from increased vaccination and the relaxation of the previously implemented public health and safety measures in Jamaica’s source markets as well as domestic initiatives such as the establishment of a resilient corridor.
Meanwhile, two of the four Goods Producing Industry subsectors recorded growth. Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing led the way with 12.1 per cent, while Construction expanded by 6.4 per cent.
Henry said the out-turn for agriculture reflected the impact of increased demand, particularly from the Tourism sector, adding that the subsector was also positively impacted by the continued implementation of measures to improve output.
“The industry’s performance benefited from a 13.9 per cent increase in hectares of domestic crops reaped, reflecting improved weather conditions relative to the corresponding quarter in 2020, when the industry was negatively impacted by heavy rains,” he added.
Growth in construction mainly resulted from increased capital expenditure on civil engineering activities by the National Works Agency (NWA), which disbursed $11.2 billion, up 192.9 per cent, largely for work on the Yallahs to Harbour View leg of the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP), and the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), which dispatched $3.9 billion, up 69.5 per cent.
Growth in the building construction component was mainly influenced by a 2.7 per cent increase in housing starts and 36.2 per cent rise in the value of National Housing Trust (NHT) mortgages.
Conversely, Manufacturing fell by 0.9 per cent, while Mining and Quarrying contracted by 64.7 per cent, due to 75.3 per cent drop in alumina production and 12.6 per cent fall-off in crude bauxite output.
The Director-General said the fall in alumina production was largely due to a halt in production at the Jamalco refinery in Clarendon, which was impacted by a fire in September 2021.
Henry said overall estimated growth of 4.4 per cent was registered for calendar year 2021, with the Goods Producing and Services industries recording similar out-turns.
He further told journalists that Jamaica’s short-term economic prospects are “generally positive”, with growth in the range of five to seven per cent projected for the January to March 2022 quarter. (CMC)