Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, says he is “cautiously optimistic” that Jamaica could record economic growth within the top end of the current four to nine percent forecast range.
Mr. Holness said this optimism was based on the higher-than-expected pace of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations locally, the anticipated release of pent-up vacation demand, and the impact of the new, significant fiscal and monetary stimulus in the United States.
He was speaking during the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the corporate Jamaica office for Dominican Republic-based construction and mining equipment distributor IMCA, recently.
The complex, being developed in partnership with Sygnus Real Estate Finance, is being built along the Spanish Town Road industrial belt in Kingston at a cost of approximately US$8 million.
The Prime Minister said while the actual growth figures were not yet available, the projections were for the out-turn to range between seven and nine percent for the April-June 2021 quarter, and four to eight percent for the 2021/22 fiscal year, ending March 2022.
Additionally, he said signs were beginning to emerge of Jamaica’s rebounding from the economic fallout of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He noted that this was partly predicated on the “remarkable” increase in visitor arrivals since May 2021, among other signs.
“We had approximately 164,000 stopover visitors in June, up from 116,000 in May and… 83,000 in April. So, this is roughly 69 per cent of the pre-pandemic number of 239,000 in June 2019,” the Prime Minister added.
He said that based on the emerging trend, the Ministry of Tourism recently revised its visitor arrival forecast for the 2021 calendar year to 1.61 million, up from 1.15 million.
Additionally, Mr. Holness said that despite the pandemic, the construction sector has recorded three consecutive quarters of economic growth.
“In the January-March 2021 quarter, growth in the goods producing industries was largely due to higher output levels in construction, up from 10.5 per cent, and mining and quarrying, up 7.1 per cent,” he pointed out while noting that “these are very resilient sectors of our economy.”
Against this background, Mr. Holness said that IMCA’s decision to deepen its investment in Jamaica was welcome.
“The Caterpillar brand (distributed in Jamaica by IMCA) has had a long and successful history in Jamaica. I’m optimistic that this project will be another industrial growth-stimulating project for Jamaica, as Caterpillar continues to bolster its presence here,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Holness indicated that the plant is expected to employ 200 workers over the course of the construction phase and 82 permanent staff members, thereafter.
He said that the project is significant and is a “signal of belief in our strong recovery from the effects of the pandemic.”
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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