Business leaders hail positive signs of economic recovery – Jamaica Information Service



Several business leaders hail the positive signs that the economy is rebounding from the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and projections of a return to pre-pandemic growth and employment levels in the short and middle term.

They also credit the government’s fiscal management for having steered the country on the path to recovery.

After a period of contraction in economic activity due to the global spread of COVID-19, the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) reports that Jamaica recorded growth of 14.2% for the April quarter to July 2021. There was also a 4.1 percentage point reduction in the unemployment rate to 8.5 percent, and a corresponding 8.3 percent increase in employment.

The latest result saw an additional 93,400 people find jobs in July 2021, bringing the employed workforce to just over 1.2 million.

It should be noted that the unemployment rate in July 2021 is only 0.7 percentage point from the record 7.8% reached in July 2019.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has reported 6.3% growth for the July-September 2021 quarter and expects the positive outlook to continue, with growth in the order of 5 at 8% from October to December 2021. Managing Director Dr Wayne Henry says the result is expected to boost calendar year expansion between three and six percent.

The Institute also predicts that growth in FY2021/22 will be in the six to nine percent range and predicts a full economic recovery ahead of the pandemic in 2023/24 and a rebound in employment at the level reached two years ago, in 2022. / 23.

In addition, the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) indicates that the growth in fiscal year 2021/22 is expected to be in the range of 7-10%, before moderating between 2 and 4%, while indicating that the market of work is “on a path for improvement”.

As new variants of the virus could challenge predictions, Richard Pandohie, CEO of Seprod Group, said JIS News that the results, coupled with encouraging signs of a recovery in the tourism industry, evidenced by increased visitor arrivals and industry revenues, “reflect the fact that the recovery process has begun”.

Chairman and CEO of the Seprod group and past chairman of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA). Richard Pandohie.

Stopover visitor arrivals through November 16 totaled 1.2 million, while Jamaica has welcomed 36,000 passengers since cruises resumed in August. The industry has so far generated some US $ 1.5 billion in profits.

“These are good signs; you have the impression that things are starting again. We went through 18 months of really difficult situations. Thus, any movement in the direction of growth [is welcomed], and we should keep pushing harder to make sure we keep our momentum going.

“I think we were really in a [economic] position [prior to COVID-19], and we would love to go back, ”he adds.

CEO cites other notable metrics including business process outsourcing (BPO) output surpassing pre-pandemic levels, with remittances being ‘much larger than expected’ and the Jamaican dollar holding relatively strong compared to its American counterpart.

Mr Pandohie, who is the outgoing president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), says the level of macroeconomic stability achieved and the fiscal accountability framework established have fueled the country’s resilience during the pandemic.

“No doubt about it. I think the government’s fiscal responsibility… gave us a fiscal cushion where Jamaica was, in large part, able to absorb some of the shocks and institute social programs to help the most. vulnerable As a small nation, I think we should be very proud of… of what we see [which] is a maturation of the management of the country from a fiscal position ”, he said. JIS News.

Mr Pandohie adds: “When you look at the context of many other countries, I think Jamaica has done well, so far, during this pandemic; that says a lot about the management of the economy, and I am delighted.

He points out that although Jamaica took almost 10 years to recover from the country’s previous major global disaster, the 2008/09 financial crisis, based on current developments, “it is clear to me that, hopefully our recovery this time will be much faster ”.

“I am cautiously optimistic. I think we’re always going against the headwind. But … from a governance point of view, I think there is good management [in place] … There is no doubt in my mind, ”says Mr. Pandohie.

JMEA President John Mahfood said the results and projections are “generally positive” and “indicate that there is relative stability in the government’s fiscal policy and its handling of the spread of the government. COVID-19 “.

He maintains that the growth and employment projections are realistic, adding: “If the government can maintain control over the spread of the virus, I think they are achievable. “

Business analyst Warren McDonald also hails the “very good numbers” as indicative of “some form of recovery” in the effects of COVID-19.

Business Analyst, Warren McDonald. (Photo from JIS file)

He says the key areas that have registered encouraging increases in production and performance are tourism and manufacturing, noting that government revenue streams are improving while remittances are strong.

McDonald says the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program, which has vaccinated more than one million people, has reduced the level of concern.

“I think there is optimism now that there is a way to work with COVID-19 and people can take back some kind of normalcy and get productivity back,” he said. . JIS News.

Noting that the macroeconomic stability achieved through the government’s fiscal prudence has played an important role in Jamaica’s ability to weather the pandemic, so far McDonald is optimistic about the prospects for economic recovery on schedule. , citing the vaccination program. as a critic in this regard.

“We have a long way to go to regain pre-pandemic growth and employment levels; but these are achievable. If people see further increases in immunization rates and a resumption of activity, it will serve to build confidence in the future and that the recovery will be faster than expected, ”he adds.

Jamaica Small Business Association (SBAJ) president Michael Leckie, who says he is cautiously optimistic, says increasing vaccinations to at least meet the government’s minimum vaccination target of 65% by March 2021, and facilitating more support, especially for micro, small and medium enterprises, will be the key to boosting the desired rate of recovery.


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