Sunday 18 August, 2019

Jamaica records 11 consecutive quarters of growth

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Fayval Williams.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Fayval Williams.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Fayval Williams, has said that with eleven consecutive quarters of economic growth, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government has achieved a first for any administration in Jamaica over the past two decades.

Williams made the boast on Wednesday as she addressed journalists at the post-Cabinet media briefing at Jamaica House.

Giving an update on the state of the economy, Williams noted that real GDP growth for the July to September quarter of 2018 that was published at the end of December was 1.8 per cent.

“This current administration is the only administration that has delivered eleven consecutive quarters of positive GDP growth if you look at all administrations dating back 21 years,” the Minister said.

“The average quarterly GDP growth of 1.28 per cent that this administration has delivered is three times that of the average quarterly GDP of prior administrations over the same period,” she added.

Minister Williams also cited other positives such as the low unemployment numbers and soaring business and consumer confidence as signs that the economy is on the right track.

She noted that unemployment at 8.7 per cent as at October 2018 was the second lowest figure in seven years. It was also approximately half the unemployment rate of the 16.3 per cent that was recorded in April 2013.

And Minister Williams also noted that women are experiencing the lowest unemployment rate at 11.2 per cent, down from a high of 21.3 per cent in April 2013.

“Men are experiencing the second lowest unemployment rate of 6.4 per cent, down from a high of 12 per cent in April 2013,” she said.

And she referenced the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce’s Business and Consumer Confidence Report for the quarter ending in December 2018 which showed consumer confidence at a record high with 175.5 points on the index. This compares to 148 points for the similar period in 2017.

At the same time, business confidence was at 147.5 points compared to a reading of 142.5 in the comparable period in 2017.

“For businesses, the figures are saying that the companies’ willingness to invest in new plants and equipment is at the highest in the history of the survey,” said Williams while observing that companies are also expecting to increase their sales and profits in 2019.

“For consumers, their higher confidence is reflected both in the current economic conditions and in their expectation of more jobs to be created.

All of this confidence is manifesting itself in credit from deposit-taking institutions or banks. We’re seeing strong credit growth in the business sector. We’re also seeing companies accessing the corporate bonds market…,” said Williams.

And she noted that individuals were also getting more credit from banks, with such credit growing 14.6 per cent up to November 2018 when compared to 12.7 per cent up to November 2017.

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