By Douglas McIntosh
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The government is projecting 2.5 percent economic growth for Jamaica over the 2018/19 fiscal year.
This is according to 2018/19 Fiscal Policy Paper, which was tabled in the House of Representatives by finance and public service minister, Audley Shaw, on Thursday, February 15.
Continued strengthening of most industries, particularly agriculture, fishing and forestry; mining and quarrying; hotels and restaurants; and electricity and water supply is expected to drive this growth.
This is based on increased demand associated with projected higher levels of employment and investments; growth in external demand for Jamaica’s goods and services; strengthening of competitiveness in some industries, following plant upgrades during 2017/18; improvements in the business environment; the roll-out of major strategic investment projects; and recovery from the negative impacts of flooding and excess rainfall last year.
Agriculture, fishing and forestry, which was severely impacted by adverse weather, is expected to rebound by seven percent and also benefit from stronger linkages with the hotels and restaurants sector, which is expected to grow by four percent.
The Fiscal Policy Paper indicates that the projected outturn for hotels and restaurants is predicated on, among other things, increased visitor arrivals resulting from anticipated growth in the global economy and Jamaica’s reputation as an award-winning world leading tourist destination.
The increase in visitor arrivals is expected to be driven by a spike in hotel room stock and more flights into the island.
The Fiscal Policy Paper further points to a projected 25 percent growth in mining and quarrying based on the continued increase in the global demand for aluminium, which is expected to lead to higher demand for alumina.
The document further notes that the industry’s growth will be supported by increases in the capacity utilization rate at local refineries, especially JISCO/ALPART, where the management continues to make significant investments to improve the plant’s operations.
Additionally, the local industry is expected to benefit from market diversification, particularly targeting the Asian bloc.
The electricity and water sector is projected to grow by 2.5 percent, based on increased business activities and housing stock, which are expected to lead to higher consumption of these utilities, facilitated by greater levels of production.