The Planning Institute of Jamaica, PIOJ, is projecting a slow but gradual return to growth for the country, despite a continued contraction for the January to March quarter of 2021.

PIOJ Director General, Dr. Wayne Henry, gave the institute’s projections at its latest quarterly briefing on Wednesday.

Despite the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PIOJ says it is seeing some green shoots of progress.

Wayne Walker tells us more.

The PIOJ is projecting that Gross Domestic Product for the Jamaican economy contracted by an estimated 5.7 percent in the January to March 2021.

The continued contraction did not come as a surprise as measures to fight the spread of COVID-19 continue to negatively affect productivity.

However, Dr. Henry says the rate of contraction continues to slow signaling a gradual return growth.

The decline was partially offset by gains in both mining which grew by 6.2 percent and construction which was largely exempt from COVID-19 measures.

Construction particularly is the only sector to have recorded three consecutive quarters of economic growth despite the pandemic, closing out the January to March Quarter with a phenomenal 12.3 percent increase.

All other sectors recorded declines with Hotels and Restaurants showing a whopping downturn of 56 percent.

This largely reflects the negative impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s tourism sector.

But, despite the down turn the worst maybe behind the country. The PIOJ is projecting growth by as much as 9 percent in the April to June quarter this year.

As a result Dr. Henry is anticipating growth within the range of 4 to 8 percent for Fiscal Year 2021-22.

However, this could be impacted by adverse weather, slower than anticipated growth both locally and globally and the uncertainty related to the effectiveness and duration of COVID-19 containment measures.