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Jamaican Economy Grew 0.8 Per Cent from April to June

KINGSTON,  Jamaica August 27, 2015- The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is reporting that the Jamaican economy grew by an estimated 0.8 per cent in the April to June 2015 quarter compared with the corresponding quarter of 2014. Director General of the PIOJ, Colin Bullock, said this growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was as a result of “the positive impact of continued strengthening of the global economy on some of the major industries, notably Hotels and Restaurants; Transport, Storage and Communication; and Mining and Quarrying.” He was providing details of the country’s economic performance for the second quarter of the year, at his Oxford Road offices in Kingston on Wednesday (August 26). Mr. Bullock also attributed the growth to improvement in domestic demand resulting from the strengthening of both business and consumer confidence levels; highway construction (phases one and three of the North-South link of Highway 2000); hotel construction and expansion works; and building of new office space to facilitate expansion of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) activities. The growth in Real GDP reflects an increase of 0.7 per cent in both the Goods Producing and Services Industries, over last year. Within the Goods Producing Industry, increases were recorded for Mining and Quarrying, up 3.6 per cent; Construction, up 1.4 per cent; and Agriculture, up 0.5 per cent constrained largely by drought conditions. As it relates to agriculture, Mr. Bullock noted that despite the unrelenting drought, the sector showed some expansion in the quarter. “Drought conditions in the quarter under review held production of ‘other agricultural crops’ below potential but this was mitigated within the sector by the strong performance of traditional export agriculture,” he said. All Services Industries recorded growth, with the exception of Producers of Government Services, down 0.2 per cent. The manufacturing industry also recorded a 0.5 per cent decline.

Caribbean Cannot Waste Its Democracy—Owen Arthur

Former Barbadian Prime Minister, Owen Arthur, has strongly commended  Jamaica’s  social partnership thrust, saying the Caribbean cannot afford to “waste its democracy” like some other nations which can shut down their Government from time to time, or “by making opposition to everything proposed by their leader the main political strategy.” He was giving  the keynote  address on Thursday, July 16, at the Partnership for Jamaica retreat, chaired by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, at the Terra Nova Hotel. Mr. Arthur said for the Caribbean, “there can be no sensible option but to embed harmony and cooperation at the centre of our governance and to do everything necessary to ensure that partnership works.” Barbados has often been cited as a model of social partnership, and   the country has for years scored high marks on the Human Development Index of the United Nations annual Human Development Report. Mr. Arthur, Barbados longest-serving Prime Minister, said the social partnership “represents the most momentous and creative piece of public policy engineering in the history of Barbados, both symbolically and substantively.” He said it is “beyond dispute” that its social partnership had contributed “massively’ to Barbados’ progress over the past two decades. Barbados signed its first social partnership agreement in 1993, after the country experienced a severe economic crisis. Mr. Arthur commended Jamaica for giving primacy to fiscal consolidation, which he said was a precondition for creating an environment of sustained growth and development. He acknowledged that this programme of fiscal consolidation does not  allow much policy space for a stimulus programme.  “The country will, therefore, have to foster development by relying more on economic drivers and enablers, which can change the costs of doing business, improve the competitiveness of sectors and enterprises and reposition the Jamaican economy in the global arena,” Mr. Arthur added. He said the Caribbean was behind in a number competitive indices  and he urged that measures be taken to revere this. He made a strong call for regionalism, bemoaning the fact that the Caribbean has the fewest bilateral trade agreements of any region in the world, “and no sustained relationships with the evolving trade blocs.” The former Barbadian Prime Minister said the building of social capital, which is integral to a social partnership model, is crucial to increasing Jamaica’s competitiveness and readiness to take on the world. He said “the ultimate justification” for any social partnership is its ability to make “the decisive difference” to a country’s development. He cautioned that social partnership is a very highly sensitive instrument.  “It must be carefully nurtured, for at its core is the delicate, intangible asset of trust, which once lost cannot ever be easily regained,” he advised.

Confidence in the Jamaican economy is slowly returning

IN a recent presentation to the Sagicor group, local IMF representative Bert van Selm argued that Jamaica now faced a supportive external environment, with US and global growth projected by the IMF at 3.6 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively for 2015, as well as falling oil prices.
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