Growth in the economy has come to a halt.
The Planning Institute of Jamaica, PIOJ, says the economy did not grow in the first quarter of the year.
It says between January and March, growth was flat at zero-percent. This breaks what was a positive trend of eight previous quarters of growth. But the PIOJ is expecting growth to resume in the second quarter of the year.
The Director General of the Planning Institute, Dr. Wayne Henry, disclosed the disappointing news at a media briefing this morning. He says growth remained flat between January and March due to declines in the mining and agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.
The PIOJ says the declines were also due to heavier than anticipated rainfall for the period; and downturns in bauxite and alumina production.
However, Dr. Henry is expecting growth to return in the second quarter of the year, ending in June.
He says the reopening of the bauxite-alumina plant in Alpart, St. Elizabeth should help growth prospects. He believes this will help spur a minimum two-percent GDP growth for this fiscal year.
Still, he’s cautioning that an anticipated worse than normal hurricane season could impede this.
Meanwhile, Dr. Henry says the target of five percent GDP growth in four years set by the Economic Growth Council, EGC, is still achievable.
This, despite the fact the PIOJ is forecasting only a three-percent growth rate by the fiscal year 2020-2021.
Dr. Henry says the PIOJ believes that 5-in-4 is still possible.
But he says the projects to achieve the target will have to be implemented ‘faster’.