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PIOJ cites economic growth ... but raises concern about increase in murders

Published:Wednesday | August 26, 2015 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham
Colin Bullock

The director general of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Colin Bullock, is warning of the serious risk posed by the recent spike in murders. He is highlighting the increase in murders along with the impact of drought as two phenomena that present a real and present danger to growth in the Jamaican economy.

Police records for January 1 to August 22, 2015 show a 20 per cent increase in murders over the comparative period for 2014 (639 versus 767). Bullock observed that the increase came despite a reported decrease (four per cent) in serious and violent crimes for the January to August period. He said an increase in murder is not good for business.

"We think that murder is increasing and murder is a serious issue [that] frightens people. It creates a sense of insecurity and if continued unchecked, it is a threat to investment and enterprise," the PIOJ director general warned.

Speaking at the PIOJ's quarterly briefing yesterday, he called on law enforcers to do more to tackle the worrying trend.

"We expect a positive response from the security forces in trying to arrest that phenomenon," Bullock said.

The PIOJ is reporting a 0.8 eight per cent growth in the economy for the quarter ending June.

Last quarter's positive movement followed near-zero growth (0.1 per cent) for the January to March quarter and a negative outturn for the previous (December quarter) of -0.3 per cent. Bullock said the main sectors responsible for this increase were the goods-producing industry, which increased by 0.7 per cent, and the services industry, which also grew by 0.7 per cent.




Bullock is pointing to a better world economy, increased domestic demand, infrastructural improvements and service-sector expansion as indicators of the positive outturn for the April to June quarter.

"The outturn largely reflected the positive impact of the continued strengthening of the global economy on some of the major industries, notably, hotels and restaurants; transport, storage and communication; and mining and quarrying.

"[There was also] an improvement in domestic demand resulting from the strengthening of both business- and consumer-confidence levels," Bullock reported.

The PIOJ director general is predicting growth of between one and two per cent for the June to September quarter. He said there were early indications that the prediction would come true, including airport arrivals, electricity generation along with bauxite and alumina exports.

For the month of July, airport arrivals were up 0.9 per cent. Power generation increased by 3.2 per cent to 272.4 million kilowatt-hours. Total bauxite exports increased by 3.5 per cent, due to a 25.8 per cent increase in alumina exports, which was tempered by a 19.7 per cent decrease in crude bauxite exports.

The next PIOJ quarterly briefing is scheduled for November.