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2017, February 24 - Jamaican economy expands 1.3%

The Jamaican economy expanded by 1.3 per cent during the quarter to December 2016, the eighth consecutive period of growth, reflecting higher output for both the services and goods-producing industries, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) reported on Wednesday.

The key drivers of growth were favourable weather conditions during 2016, which facilitated higher levels of production in the agriculture, forestry and fishing, and electricity and water supply industries, PIOJ Director General Dr Wayne Henry said.

"It was also reflected in increased hotel room capacity and flight frequency, which facilitated growth in stopover visitor arrivals, as well as major infrastructure works, including the construction and renovation of hotels, residential construction activities and major road improvement projects across the island," he said.

Growth was also attributed to higher levels of business and consumer confidence, and increased employment which supported increased demand, as well as improved performance in the economies of Jamaica's main trading partners, which supported increased exports of some goods and services such as traditional agricultural exports, and hotels and restaurant services, Henry said.

Performance constraints

The positive out-turn notwithstanding, the economic performance was constrained by slower-than-planned execution of government - supported capital projects; and production downtime associated with reduced demand from major purchasers of Jamaica's crude bauxite; shipping delays, which impacted alumina exports; and temporary plant closure to facilitate maintenance and repairs, said the director general in reviewing the economic performance for the quarter during a briefing in New Kingston.

He said the goods-producing industry grew by three per cent and was attributable to a 16 per cent expansion in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry; 0.2 per cent increase in manufacture; and 0.8 per cent increase in the construction industry.

The performance in agriculture, forestry and fishing largely reflected the impact of initiatives implemented to spur increased output and improve productivity, an increase in domestic crops reaped, as well as improved rainfall which occurred during previous quarters.

Dr Henry said that during the quarter, other agricultural crops grew by 17.4 per cent with higher output recorded for all nine crop groups.

He said that for calendar year 2016, the Jamaican economy is estimated to have expanded by 1.4 per cent compared with growth of 0.9 per cent in 2015.

The largest contributors were agriculture, forestry and fishing, up 12.8 per cent; electricity and water, up 3.8 per cent; hotels and restaurants, up 2.1 per cent; and transports storage and communications, up 0.6 per cent.

The PIOJ is projecting growth of one to two per cent for the quarter to March 2017 and within the same range for fiscal year 2016-17.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com

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