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Jamaican economy records real growth

Published:Thursday | February 23, 2012 | 5:51 PM

McPherse Thompson, Assistant News Editor

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is reporting that the country has recorded its first real growth since 2007.

The pronouncement comes two days after the Bank of Jamaica also reported that the country saw its fourth consecutive quarter of real growth ending December 2011.

PIOJ Director General Dr. Gladstone Hutchinson told journalists at a press conference today that the economy expanded by 1.5 per cent in 2011.

According to Dr. Hutchinson, the growth was driven largely by a boost in demand for bauxite and alumina as well as better weather conditions which drove improved performance in the agricultural sector.

For calendar the year 2011, the mining and quarrying sector grew by 20.2 per cent, and agriculture, forestry and fishing, by 11 per cent.

However, Dr. Hutchinson said despite these positives, vulnerabilities in the economy could dampen the ongoing recovery.

Meanwhile, the PIOJ Director General said during the October to December 2011 quarter, the economy is estimated to have expanded by 1.7 per cent compared with the corresponding period in 2010.

Dr. Hutchinson said over the review period the goods-producing sector grew by 5.8 per cent, while the services industry expanded by 0.2 per cent.

He further said inflation during the October to December quarter was 1.3 per cent.

The PIOJ head attributes to the jump to increased prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages which went up by 1.9 per cent and housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, which went up by 2.2 per cent.

The PIOJ is projecting growth in the range of 0.5 to 1.5 per cent for the period January to March.