Speaking at a recent Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) media sensitisation seminar at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew, Dr. Clarke noted that there has been an “increasing trend” in this regard, based on the gross domestic product (GDP) out-turns in the last four fiscal/calendar year quarters.
The Minister said official figures from STATIN show that GDP moved from 0.9 per cent to 1.4 per cent over the initial three quarters, between July 2017 and March 2018.
He added that if the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) 1.8 per cent estimate for the June 2018 quarter is taken into consideration, subject to STATIN’s confirmation, “we have seen an increasing trend… so that’s [encouraging]”.
He said that based on factors and indicators, such as the growth in loans and credit extended to the private sector by financial institutions and the absence, to date, of severe weather, which had adversely impacted sectors, such as agriculture, “there is reason to be optimistic”.
Dr. Clarke contended that there was a strong correlation between the performances of agriculture and the economy, “in that when it [agriculture] does well, the economy tends to do well”, as evidenced in the June 2018 quarter.
“The strongest growth in two years, as predicted by the PIOJ, was the last quarter of 1.8 per cent… [and this] happened in a quarter where agriculture grew by 10 per cent,” he noted.
The Minister said weather is also an influencing factor in that context, noting that growth contractions in recent years have been linked to the effects of extreme weather conditions, whether drought or flooding, on the sector.
Dr. Clarke emphasised, however, that this development does not necessarily guarantee a transition into higher levels of growth, as “we have had increasing trends before that have not continued.”
The seminar, which was held under the theme ‘Statistics and the Media – Why Understanding Official Data Matters’, was aimed at assisting media practitioners to understand, interpret and present official data accurately.
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