Weak performance as Jamaica marks 20 consecutive quarters of growth

Jamaica recorded weak growth of 0.1 per cent but marked its 20th consecutive quarter of economic increase for the three-month period ended December 2019.

Director General of the PIOJ, Dr Wayne Henry (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)

This according to the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) which held its quarterly media review on February 19 to share preliminary findings of the country’s economy.

The anaemic result was due to a combination of factors, said Director General of the PIOJ, Dr Wayne Henry, who delivered the results. Dr Henry said the winding down of major construction projects and the slow roll-out of new strategic investment projects, coupled with downtime in plants in several industries due to aged equipment all factored in the stymied growth.

An infographic showing Jamaica’s performance over the October to December quarter.

Specifically, Mining and Quarrying declined by 38.7 per cent due to the downturn in alumina and crude bauxite production. “Alumina production fell by 44.9 per cent, driven by a cessation of production at the Alpart Refinery as well as lower production levels at the other two refineries that were operational,” the PIOJ head reported.

Construction declined two per cent, as capital expenditure on civil engineering activities also dropped. Disbursements by the National Works Agency were $3.2 billion, down 54 per cent, while the Jamaica Public Service Company disbursed $4.2 billion, a 30.7 per cent decline, both over the comparable quarter.

Alumina production fell by 44.9 per cent, driven by a cessation of production at the Alpart Refinery (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)

Also, the Port Authority of Jamaica’s disbursements fell 41.1 per cent, closing the quarter at $2.2 billion.

However, some industries performed well and delivered positive results over the quarter, when compared to the same quarter of the previous year. The period saw increased external demand from Jamaica’s main trading partners, which supported increased exports of some goods and services. What’s more, “increased hotel room capacity, and air seat capacity, which facilitated growth in stopover visitors” aided the outturn.

Lower disbursements by several government agency also contributed to the downturn in the previous quarter. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

The Director General also noted that favourable weather conditions, which helped increase agricultural output and water production, and increased use of financial services, facilitated by lower interest rates and a relatively stable environment, aided the growth.

Outlook for the current quarter is positive with real growth projected between zero and one per cent.