Jamaica’s dark economic forecast

Jamaica will have the seventh
slowest growth rate in the world up to 2015, according to a new International
Monetary Fund (IMF) report analysed by the Business Observer, indicating missed
opportunities for the debt-ridden country.

No cranes dot the capital city’s
business centre, its roads are filled with holes similar to the tattered
clothes of beggars at the stoplights, and oftentimes youth recite an expression
that reflects a lack of opportunity.

 Jamaica, however, can expect more of the same
as it is projected to trail some 143 nations in the world in growth statistics,
which is a barometer of prosperity. With projections of about 1.3 per cent
annually over the next five years, the island will grow three times slower than
the world economy, according to charts within the World Economic Outlook (WEO)
published by the IMF.

Unfortunately, the country’s output
or gross domestic product (GDP) could dip even further due to Tropical Storm
Nicole which killed about 13 persons and destroyed infrastructure last month.

“The rains will affect GDP
performance because it resulted in loss of productive time. Further, it will
widen the fiscal deficit, which has the potential to derail other economic variables
and can result in serious problems for the macro-economy, if not managed
properly”, said Densil Williams, a Mona School of Business lecturer, in
response to Business Observer queries.

The only territories — amongst 150
— projected to grow at a slower pace on average than Jamaica over five years
are St Kitts & Nevis at 0.3 per cent, oil-rich Venezuela at 0.33 per cent,
Brunei Darussalam at 1.03 per cent, Croatia at 1.03 per cent, Antigua at 1.13
per cent and Equatorial Guinea at 1.23 per cent. Interestingly, three of the
six territories trailing Jamaica are in the Latin America and Caribbean region.
However, generally, the region is projected to outperform the world economy at
4.5 per cent on average over the period, due to stellar performances expected
from Brazil, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Chile and Colombia.