Uncertainty over the future of the Bauxite Alumina Plant, JISCO Alpart and the Petrojam oil refinery are casting a shadow over Jamaica’s growth projections.
Director-General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, PIOJ, Dr. Wayne Henry says these and other factors could stymie the country’s growth potential for the current year.
Dr. Henry was addressing a PIOJ media briefing yesterday.
As the government remains tight-lipped about the future of Alpart, Dr. Henry says this could impact growth.
Mining Minister, Robert Montague, stated earlier this month that negotiations with Alpart’s owner JISCO, are at a delicate stage.
The reopening of the plant and subsequent shipments of alumina contributed significantly to recent gains in GDP.
JISCO, has already laid off hundreds of temporary workers in a community that is heavily reliant on the plant for its economic survival.
But, Senior Director for Economic Planning, James Stewart, says for the moment, Alpart continues to record increases in production.
Meanwhile, Dr. Henry says the future of Petrojam may also play a part in the country’s short and medium-term growth.
Earlier this year, a Petrojam Review Commission, recommended the refinery be leased to the private sector or converted to an import-export terminal.
A final decision is yet to be announced by the Andrew Holness-administration.
The PIOJ is projecting a boost in growth for the April to June quarter due to increased activity at the refinery.
But, Dr. Henry warns that a decision regarding the ultimate fate of Petrojam could see a reduction in production.
However, despite the uncertainty on these key issues, the PIOJ is still projecting a minimum GDP growth of at least one per cent for the year.
Chevon Campbell for Nationwide News.