Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Haiti records 1.4% growth in 2016

Published:Thursday | December 29, 2016 | 12:16 AM
Women carry laundry across a stream running through fields and fruit trees, in a village outside Les Cayes, Haiti, Wednesday, October 12, 2016. Hurricane Matthew's winds uprooted coconut trees, shattered banana plantations and flattened vegetable fields across the southwest.

Haiti's economy grew by more than one per cent in 2016, according to preliminary figures released by the Directorate of Economic Statistics of the Ministry of Finance.

It said that gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 1.4 per cent, well below the target of 3.6 per cent that the authorities had set at the beginning of fiscal year October 2015-16.

The figures show that the agricultural sector was largely responsible for GDP growth in 2016.

According to preliminary estimates based on partial and provisional data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, the value added at constant prices of the forestry, livestock and fisheries sectors, increased from HTG 3,131 million gourdes (One Haitian gourde =US$0.014 cents) in 2015 to HTG 3,226 million gourdes in 2016, an increase of three per cent compared to a 5.4 per cent decline the previous year.

The other sectors that contributed to growth in 2016 included manufacturing, up 1.5 per cent; food industries, up four per cent; and papermaking and printing, up 3.9 per cent.

From a global demand perspective, growth was driven by a 1.2 per cent increase in consumption, and 1.1 per cent in total investment. Consumption was supported in part by the seven per cent increase in diaspora remittances and a 12 per cent increase in the public administration payroll.

The authorities noted, however, that public investment has fallen, saying the overall increase in private investment can be attributed to the private sector - 2.2 per cent increase in foreign direct investment and a 17 per cent increase in loans granted to the private sector by the financial system.

The figures show that the local currency also depreciated sharply against the US dollar, from HTG 51.8 gourdes per US dollar in September 2015 to HTG 65.2 gourdes in September 2016, a drop of almost 26 per cent.

That depreciation of the Haitian currency impacted inflation, which, contrary to the forecast of 6.2 per cent at the beginning of the year, reached 12.5 per cent year-on-year at the end of the fiscal year, September 2016, and 14.2 per cent in November 2016.

The Directorate of Economic Statistics says the 2017 fiscal year has started badly because of the major natural hazards that hit the country in early October.

"Gains obtained particularly in the crop of spring 2016 was almost cancelled by the passage of Hurricane Matthew in at least four of the 10 departments of the country," the directorate said.

"This natural disaster has severely decapitated farmers, pastoralists and fishermen. If adequate actions are not taken with a view to appropriate recapitalisation, this situation risks undermining the expected 2.2 per cent performance of the Haitian economy in 2017," it added.

- CMC