The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has reported an estimated real value-added growth in the economy of 4.3 per cent for July to September, compared with the corresponding quarter of 2021.
Concurrently, the PIOJ forecasts growth of 2.5 to 3.5 per cent for the October-December quarter and four to five 5 per cent for the full calendar year.
For the fiscal year ending March 2023, its forecast is for growth of 3.5 to 4.5 per cent.
The improvements signal the continued recovery of the economy coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, buoyed by the faster-than-expected recovery and performance of the tourism industry.
The outturn of the review period was also influenced the removal of COVID-19 containment measures globally, “which facilitated increased domestic and external demands, higher levels of employment; increased business and consumer confidence and higher levels of productivity in the agriculture industry, Director General of the PIOJ Dr Wayne Henry, said.
The goods-producing industry grew by 3.2 per cent, buoyed by increases in agriculture and a 3.5 per cent improvement in the manufacturing sectors, with the services sector seeing an increase of 4.7 per cent.
Real value-added growth for the agricultural sector was 15.4 per cent. “This improvement reflected increased supply in response to higher demand, particularly from the hotels and restaurants industry…” Dr Henry.
The category of other agricultural crops was estimated to have grown by 16.1 per cent, reflecting higher production in all nine crop groups monitored.
The largest increase was reported for plantain which was up 21.9 per cent; fruits up 20.8 per cent; yams up 19.1 per cent and vegetables up 18.5 per cent.
There was also increased output for traditional export crops – which rose by 19.7 per cent. Banana production grew by 16.7 per cent. Sugar cane – of which there was no production in the comparative quarter last year – was recorded at 25,107 tonnes.
The sector also saw an increase in broiler meat production – which was up 30.9 per cent and egg production – which grew by 6.6 per cent to 59 million eggs, resulting in an overall growth of 22.2 per cent in the animal farming category.
Mining and quarrying created a drag on the economy, decreasing by 30.4 per cent “due to decline in alumina and crude bauxite production,” Henry said.
The construction sector also contracted by 2.2 per cent.
Real value-added in the hotel and restaurant industries was estimated to have grown by 29.6 per cent with a 42 per cent increase in stop-over visitor arrivals.
Interestingly, stop-over arrivals for August was 218,849, “representing the highest on record for any August and signal [ing] a return to pre-COVID monthly arrivals at levels,” Dr Henry revealed.
Visitor expenditure also increased by 49.5 per cent to US$698.2 million for the review period.
Overall, the prospects for the Jamaica economy in the short term are positive despite the headwinds spurred by the global high-inflationary climate. The tourism sector is also expected to continue its positive impact on the country’s recovery and growth.