The Director General, Planning Institute of Jamaica, Dr Wayne Henry, reported at the Institute’s quarterly press briefing, that the economy continued to record growth during the second quarter of the fiscal year. For July–September 2018, real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to have increased by 1.9 per cent relative to July–September 2017. This follows a real GDP growth of 2.2 per cent recorded for the April–June quarter. During the July–September quarter, Real Value Added in the Goods Producing Industry grew by 5.2 per cent, while Real Value Added for the Services Industry expanded by 0.8 per cent. The improved economic performance was pushed mainly by increases in the Mining & Quarrying (54.0 per cent), Construction (3.0 per cent) and Hotels & Restaurants (2.0 per cent) industries. Growth was also recorded for the Agriculture Forestry & Fishing (0.7 per cent) industry. This performance was, however, negatively impacted by drought conditions which caused low yields and crop losses. Within the Services Industry, all industries recorded increases, with the exception of Electricity & Water Supply, down 0.1 per cent.
The Director General noted that the performance during the quarter took place against the background of continued macroeconomic stability, with modest inflation of 3.1 per cent; low interest rates; an improved fiscal out-turn; an uptick in both business and consumer confidence; and increased construction activities, associated with the expansion of the road network, building of new hotels, and other commercial buildings. Dr Henry also revealed positive indicators for the Labour Market. The unemployment rate for July 2018 was 8.4 per cent compared with a rate of 11.3 per cent in July 2017. This is the lowest unemployment rate on record, that is, since 1968. The employed labour force increased by 12 800 persons to 1 226 400 persons relative to July 2017. This represents the highest level of employment ever for a single month. There was a decline in Jamaica’s Labour Force for July 2018 by 30 100 to 1 338 200 persons relative to July 2017. This out-turn in the employment figures continues the trend of establishing record levels of employment observed since mid-2016.
The outlook for the October–December 2018 quarter is positive. Real GDP for the October to December 2018 quarter is expected to grow within the range of 1.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent. Growth is expected to be led by Mining & Quarrying, due to increased capacity utilization in the Alumina subindustry, reflecting the impact of increased production by Alpart; Hotels & Restaurants, facilitated by increased room stock, resulting from the renovation and expansion of existing properties and construction of new hotels; and Construction, reflecting the intensification of road construction activities which will be accompanied by increased capital expenditure by the NWC for improvement to the potable water and sewer systems. The ongoing construction of the new JPS 190 Megawatt Liquefied Natural Gas plant at a cost of US$330.9 million will also continue to boost growth in the short-term. The plant is scheduled for commercial operation by June 2019.
Vision 2030 Jamaica: Dashboard of Indicators
Under the Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan framework, Programme Director, Vision 2030 Jamaica Secretariat, Ms Elizabeth Emanuel gave an update on the country’s overall development results. She stated that she was pleased to report that the 4th Medium Term Socio-Economic Policy Framework (MTF) document had been completed and would be presented to Cabinet shortly for approval. Ms Emanuel noted that the overall progress of implementation of Vision 2030 Jamaica under successive MTFs had been mixed. With respect to the period 2015–2018, Jamaica saw development gains in several areas, including human capital development; macroeconomic stability; reduction in unemployment; increases in the use of non-fossil fuel based energy, such as alternatives and renewables; governance, particularly in control of corruption and government effectiveness; key economic sectors, especially tourism and agriculture; and infrastructural development. However, that same period saw increases in crime rates; low levels of economic growth; undesirable levels of poverty, particularly rural poverty; a general increase in the rate of chronic non-communicable diseases; and a fall in environmental sustainability.
She reported that of a total of 67 indicators that were monitored against medium-term targets under Vision 2030 Jamaica, 56.0 per cent had shown improvement over the baseline year 2007 based on results to 2017/18, while 36.0 per cent had shown no improvement or worsened relative to the baseline year of 2007. No up-to-date data were available for the remaining 8.0 per cent. The Programme Director then elaborated on the country’s performance under the four national goals of Vision 2030 Jamaica. She indicated that the largest development gains up to March 2018 were under Goal 1: “Jamaicans are Empowered to Achieve their Fullest Potential”, followed by Goal 3: “Jamaica’s Economy is Prosperous”. Goal 2: “The Jamaican Society is Secure, Cohesive and Just”, continued to remain a concern as no indicator related to security, justice or governance met or exceeded the targets for 2018. Additionally, many of the indicators under Goal 4: “Jamaica has a healthy natural environment” requires attention, chief among these being the environmental performance index (EPI) which fell by 20 points in 2018 relative to the 2016 EPI, pushing the country further away from meeting the 2030 target of an EPI higher than 80 which would represent achievement of environmental sustainability.
Contact: Carole James (Communications Manager)
Review of Economic Performance, July-September 2018