Finance Minister Optimistic Of Higher Sustainable Growth

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Jamaica News: Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says he is optimistic that Jamaica could be on the way to attaining higher levels of sustainable economic growth.

Speaking at a Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) media sensitisation seminar at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew on Thursday (August 30), Dr. Clarke noted that there has been an “increasing trend” in this regard, based on the gross domestic product (GDP) out-turns in the last four fiscal/calendar year quarters.

The Minister said official figures from STATIN show that GDP moved from 0.9 per cent to 1.4 per cent over the initial three quarters, between July 2017 and March 2018.

He added that if the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) 1.8 per cent estimate for the June 2018 quarter is taken into consideration, subject to STATIN’s confirmation, “we have seen an increasing trend… so that’s [encouraging]”.

Dr. Clarke emphasised, however, that this development does not necessarily guarantee a transition into higher levels of growth, as “we have had increasing trends before that have not continued”.

He said that based on factors and indicators, such as the growth in loans and credit extended to the private sector by financial institutions and the absence, to date, of severe weather, which had adversely impacted sectors, such as agriculture, “there is reason to be optimistic”.

Meanwhile, Dr. Clarke contended that there is a strong correlation between the performances of agriculture and the economy, “in that when it [agriculture] does well, the economy tends to do well”, as evidenced in the June 2018 quarter.

“The strongest growth in two years, as predicted by the PIOJ, was the last quarter of 1.8 percent… [and this] happened in a quarter where agriculture grew by 10 percent,” he noted.

The Minister said weather is also an influencing factor in that context, noting that growth contractions in recent years have been linked to the effects of extreme weather conditions, whether drought or flooding, on the sector.

The seminar, which was held under the theme ‘Statistics and the Media – Why Understanding Official Data Matters’, was aimed at assisting media practitioners to understand, interpret and present official data accurately.

Thursday’s forum focused on the gross domestic product and consumer price index.


Source: JIS News

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