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Jamaica grows 0.6% in third quarter

Published:Friday | November 22, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Colin Bullock, director general of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, speaks at his quarterly press briefing on the economy, on Wednesday, November 19. - Gladstone Taylor/Photographer

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) said the Jamaican economy grew by an estimated 0.6 per cent for the quarter to September 2013, after six consecutive quarters of contraction.

The out-turn for the review period was largely attributed to improved weather conditions and initiatives geared at improving productivity and output.

The PIOJ reported a turnaround in agriculture, an increase in capital expenditure by key public bodies, an expansion in the volume and value of mortgages disbursed, as well as improved performances in the mining and tourism industries.

PIOJ Director General Colin Bullock said the economy's performance was stymied by the slower-than-projected global economic performance, especially in the economies of Jamaica's main trading partners.

Bullock said the PIOJ welcomes this initial sign of a return to growth.

"We are led to caution, however, that the estimated turnaround is as yet of modest proportions. This means that until the tendency to growth strengthens, it remains susceptible to reversal if there are any sufficiently adverse social or economic shocks," he said at the PIOJ's quarterly economic briefing on Wednesday.

The PIOJ is projecting further growth for the fourth quarter at 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent.

During the September quarter, the goods-producing sector grew by 2.2 per cent with all industries, except manufacture, registering an improvement in real value.

The agriculture sector grew by an estimated five per cent; as did mining & quarrying due to increased output of the heavier weighted alumina component, which offset declines in crude bauxite production.

Alumina production increased by 10.2 per cent on improved production by Jamalco, up 3.1 per cent, and Windalco, up 27.8 per cent.

Crude bauxite production declined by 11.5 per cent, due to a reduction in planned production to facilitate dredging activities to expand the capacity at the port.

Manufacture declined by an estimated 0.8 per cent.

The construction industry grew by 2.5 per cent, reflecting an increase in residential projects. The volume and value of mortgages increased by 71.7 per cent and 68.8 per cent, respectively, relative to the corresponding quarter of 2012.

Bullock said growth in other construction was due to increased capital expenditure by the Government: National Road Operating and Construction Company rose 127 per cent to $1.18 billion; while National Water Commission expenditure rose 39 per cent to $1.64 billion.

The services sector grew by 0.1 per cent.

The sector's performance was impacted by a 3.5 per cent decline in the electricity consumption and water production sector.

Hotels and restaurants grew 0.8 per cent, while transport and communications improved by 0.5 per cent.

Bullock said performance of the hotels and restaurants sector was influenced by growth in stopover visitors from the Canadian, European and Latin American markets.