Last month’s two-day strike by over 2,000 workers of the National Water Commission (NWC) has resulted in revenue losses of $240 million, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) disclosed on Wednesday.
PIOJ Director General Dr Wayne Henry said the downturn in water consumption during the period of industrial action was equivalent to 2.1 per cent of total water consumption during the period April to June 2021.
Specifically, water consumption fell 454.3 megalitres and water production fell 1,297.4 megalitres between May 10 and 11.
The PIOJ is still awaiting impact estimates in other sub-industries, namely the air-transport services, which also saw workers take industrial action on May 12.
“At this stage, we are still awaiting data on the impact on the air transport and tourism activities to complete the assessment on overall GDP as requested by the prime minister. A more comprehensive update will therefore be provided at a later date,” the PIOJ head said.
Henry also cautioned against future labour unrest, which he said could erode the gains made during the period of economic recovery.
“I encourage both the government and private sector employees as well as unions representing workers in both private and public sectors, to approach labour disputes in a manner that will be rewarding to both workers and employees and not cause harm to the development process,” he told the PIOJ’s quarterly press briefing.
Concurrently, Henry disclosed that Jamaica’s economy grew by six per cent in the fourth quarter ended March 2022.
Five of the six service industry subsectors recorded positive out-turns to drive this growth.
Leading the way was ‘Hotels and Restaurants’, which, according to the PIOJ, increased by an impressive 105.7 per cent.
This contributed significantly to the services industry recording an 8.9 per cent out-turn for the review period.
Henry said the hotels and restaurants subsector continues to benefit from increased travel, consequent on the relaxation of previously implemented COVID-19 containment measures.
“Preliminary data revealed that foreign national arrivals increased by 230.1 per cent to 475,805 visitors, and cruise-passenger arrivals [totalled] 99,798, relative to none in the corresponding quarter [last year]. Based on data received for January to February 2022, total visitor expenditure increased to US$485.6 million, relative to US$169.2 million in the corresponding period [in 2021],” Henry informed.
The other subsectors recording growth were ‘Wholesale and Retail Trade, Repair and Installation of Machinery’, up 9.5 per cent; ‘Transport, Storage and Communication’, up 8.1 per cent; Finance and Insurance Services, up 1.5 per cent; and Electricity and Water Supply, up 1.4 per cent.
Henry said, however, that the subsector ‘Producers of Government Services’ remained flat.
Only two of the four goods-producing industry subsectors recorded positive out-turns. These were ‘Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing’, which grew by an estimated 8.6 per cent, and ‘Construction’, up 1.1 per cent.
Meanwhile, Henry said the growth prospects for April to June 2022 are “generally positive”, with the out-turn projected to be within the two to four per cent range, based on a continuation of the recovery process.
“It is based on the continuation of the recovery process relative to the low output levels recorded in the corresponding period of 2021,” said Henry. “This projection is supported by the further relaxation of COVID-19 containment measures.”