Prime Minister Doctor Kenny Anthony tonight gave an upbeat assessment of the performance of the national economy.
Delivering his New Year’s address to the nation, Anthony reported that most economic sectors showed signs of recovery within the first nine months of 2015.
He disclosed that the construction sector gained momentum, supported by continued buoyancy in tourism, agriculture and other services.
Anthony said that construction activity was led by the private sector as work commenced on the construction of the Royalton Hotel, the former Smugglers Resort.
He explained that the trend continued on a number of projects, including Tides Sugar Beach in Soufriere, Harbour Club Hotel, the Courts Megastore, and the Dayana Commercial Centre.
“This increased level of activity was reflected in a 13.5 percent increase in the importation of construction materials over the period from January to September 2015,” the Prime Minister observed.
He said the tourism sector continued to accomplish record performances, with a 6.4 percent increase in total arrivals over the January to November period.
Anthony cited an increase of 10.1 and 2.6 percent in cruise and stay over arrivals respectively over the period, which contributed to higher visitor expenditure at an estimated $414.5 million in the first half of the year.
According to him, higher levels of domestic and export demand were reflected in a 6.3 percent increase in manufacturing production.
“The output of food and food products increased by 21.6 percent, corrugated paper and paper board by 12.5 percent, wood and wood products by 11.6 percent and furnishings by 16.1 percent. From all vantage points, these increases are welcome and encouraging,” the Prime Minister asserted.
However Anthony observed that the agricultural sector experienced mixed fortunes during the review period.
He said while there were declines in banana exports and livestock production overall, increases were recorded in pork production and vegetable production.
“Our fiscal balances continue to show improvement. An overall deficit of $-27.2 million was recorded for the first half of the fiscal year 2015/16, representing a 55.8 percent reduction from the $-61.6 million in 2014/15,” Anthony disclosed.