PIOJ spots boost in confidence levels
McPherse Thompson, Assistant Business Editor
Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Colin Bullock said the short-term prospects for the Jamaican economy during the March 2014 quarter are positive based on expectations of heightened confidence.
Among other things, he said that was consequent to the successful completion of the third quarterly review of Jamaica's programme under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and greater stability in the macroeconomic environment.
"This is reflected in greater stability in price movements as indicated by the rate of inflation for January 2014 at 0.5 per cent," said Bullock, in reviewing the economic performance quarter to December 2013 during a media briefing at the PIOJ offices in New Kingston last week.
He said the main impetus for inflation during January was largely due to higher prices for the category 'furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance', up 2.9 per cent.
That was associated with increased prices for the subgroup 'goods and services for routine household maintenance', which grew by 4.2 per cent due mainly to the increase in minimum-wage rates implemented in January.
"As we make the transition from 2013 to 2014, economic-policy implementation and economic performance inform a strengthening of our optimism regarding effective socio-economic transformation," Bullock said.
He said that despite exchange-rate depreciation, inflation remained within the targeted range and within single digits.
Noting some of the progress made under the strategic private-public investments pillar of the Government's growth strategy, Bullock said "the true leaders of private enterprise have demonstrated that there are still significant opportunities for profitable private investment".
He said that "as a result of these successes in the public and private sectors, we perceive a transition from the unbridled pessimism that existed one year ago", when there was widespread concern, given the delay in Jamaica sealing a new loan agreement with the IMF.
"There are still mountains to climb," Bullock said. "Stronger economic growth and broader social participation in economic recovery remain as imperatives of public policy. Towards this end, the public-policy-reform agenda will be continuing. With a changing mood in the private sector, we anticipate a streng-thening of social partnership for increased private investment and more socially inclusive economic growth," said the director general.
Bullock, referring to initiatives to enhance access to credit for the micro, small and medium-size enterprise (MSME) sector, said that as at December 2013 the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) had achieved 92 per cent of its target to disburse J$2 billion for fiscal year 2013-14.
According to the IMF country report 13/378 on Jamaica, as part of the growth enhancing reforms, the Government has committed to an increase in financing to and support for MSMEs.
It said the DBJ is rapidly expanding its credit to MSMEs, and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation is increasing its business develop-ment support in various ways, including training and incubator services.