The inflation rate for 2017 could be even lower than that of 2016, if the historical patterns repeat. The 2106 out turn compares with 3.7 percent recorded for 2015. The rate for December 2016 was 0.3 percent and is just below the average of fiscal year-to-date movement of 3.1 percent to December 2016.
The rate for 2016 would have been even less, had it not been for increased taxes imposed by the government on a series of items in the first half of the year. The added increase from taxes should not recur in 2017 as revenues are running well ahead of target for the 2017 fiscal year and a pickup in growth should see a healthy increase in revenues for the new fiscal year.
In 2016, inflation in Jamaica, benefited from a continuation in tight fiscal policies, pursued by the government, but it would have been negatively affected by slippage in the exchange rate of the Jamaican dollar versus the US dollar. Moderation in energy prices helped as well.
Going forward, the country should continue to benefit from relatively low energy prices a more stable exchange rate of the Jamaican dollar as foreign exchange inflows remain strong.
Data going back to 2002 suggests that the first two months of the year tend to have flat to negative inflation. In 2015 inflation remained below the December 2014 level until April and just inching ahead in May. In 2016 it remained below the December 2015 level until July.
According to the inflows of PAYE, the difference between inflows for 2015 amounted to $46 billion to November is only $3 billion more than the intake of $43 billion for the same period in 2016. Revenues lost monthly, since August, the first month that revenues would be affected by the lower tax payments is now running around $1.2 billion lower than in 2015, suggesting that the full impact for the current fiscal year will end up costing $9 billion instead of the $12.5 billion originally stated. The cost for a full year would be in the order of $14 billion.
According to Shaw, 251,000 persons would have benefit from the increased threshold. Revenues for Government of Jamaica fiscal operations to the end of November 2016 are $26 billion ahead of the similar period in 2015. For the current fiscal year, revenues are $13.8 billion ahead of forecast an amount that has already exceeded the amount forgone in income tax.
For the current fiscal year revenues are $13.8 billion ahead of forecast with nearly $5 billion of the surplus coming in November. Intake for the 8 months to November, came in at $304 billion compared with forecast of $290 billion. In May, Minister of Finance announced tax increases of just less than $14 billion that would mostly take full effect at the start of June, with some from mid-May. Revenues from the new measures to November, would be approximately $10 billion with $4 billion to be collected for the other 4 months of the fiscal year.
While revenues are ahead of forecast expenditure are lower than projected. Total expenditure are running $10.5 billion below target to November, of this amount capital expenditure is running $8 below target. Wages are $3.8 billion short of budget while interest cost is above target by $900 million.
Overall operations incurred a deficit of $11 billion compared with projection of a deficit of $26.6 billion leading to the primary surplus ending $25 billion better that forecast at $$63.6 billion.
Price movements as measured by the consumer index amounts to just 1.7 percent compared to the November 2015. Inflation for the fiscal year-to-date registered an increase of 2.8 percent.
The price movement in November this year, is mainly as a result of a 0.5 percent rise in Food and Non Alcoholic Beverages and a 0.7 per cent increase in Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ division. Higher prices for vegetables and starchy foods and a rise in the cost of electricity were items that were most impactful.
The Unemployment Rate for June 2016 fell to 12.9 percent, the lowest level since it hit a post 2007 high of 15.4 percent, in June 2013. It is the first time it is breaking below the 13 per cent level that it was stuck at for years. One aspect of the data raises questions about the findings.
According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica the government body charged with collecting and collating economic data on the country. ”There were 1,186,900 employed persons in July 2016 which was 39,400 more than the 1,147,500, recorded in July 2015. The industry group Wholesale & Retail, Repair of Motor Vehicle & Equipment had the largest gain (13,300) in employment moving from 220,200 in July 2015 to 233,500 in July 2016. For the same period the industry group Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry & Fishing had the largest decline (14,000), moving from 205,200 to 191,200. The industry group Construction had the largest increase in the number of males (10,200) and the groups Manufacturing (7,100) and Other Community, Social and Personal Service Activities (7,100) accounted for the largest increase in the number of females in the period.”
The big question is how is it possible for agriculture to have grown by a massive 38 percent, according to data from the Planning Institute of Jamaica and for there to be a major fall in employment in that category? The more likely situation is that employment grew sharply in the agricultural sector, resulting in a much greater fall in unemployment, assuming the estimate for growth in agriculture is correct.
The latest issue of Treasury bill offerings saw the 182 instrument climbing 40 basis points to 6.2 percent while the 91 days T-bill rose marginally to virtually hold at 5.70 percent just a tad above the average in October.
The 28 day T-bill slipped from 5.78 percent to 5.70 percent. At the same time the main market All Jamaica Composite index continues to climb with some companies posting good increased profits.
The rise in the 192 days instrument comes against the back drop of stability in the exchange rate for November to date, very low inflation that seems headed to around than 2 percent for 2016. The change in rates also comes against the change in Bank of Jamaica policy to offer Certificate of Deposits daily to the market to bid on.
Inflation rate in Jamaica remains at a low level for October with the rate receding from 0.5 percent in September to 0.2 percent in the latest compilation by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin).
The rate of inflation for the calendar year-to-date was 1.1 per cent, while increase for the last twelve months to October is up 1.8 percent. The fiscal year-to-date registered an increase of 2.4 percent and is running well below the central bank’s forecast of 4.5 to 6.5 percent.
The month by month increase for 2016, should end just under 2 percent for the full year, suggesting that its time the central bank adjusts their fiscal rate target sharply down, with the price of oil under pressure and the prospect that electricity rates should decline with Jamaica Public Service switching to LNG to power their Bogue plant.
Higher prices for vegetables and starchy Foods’ with an increase of 1.6 percent and movement for the division ‘Transport’ mainly attributable to higher prices for petroleum locally impacted the overall increase in inflation. A decline in electricity rates charged to consumers helped to moderate the increase.
The continued low inflation is aided by a fall in oil prices and other commodities on the world market but most telling, is the elimination of the huge government fiscal deficit in the past. The large deficit helped to fuel high levels of inflation and severe instability in the rate of exchange for the local currency.
Business and investors’ confidence is climbing with the Bank of Jamaica perceptions of present and future business conditions survey showing strong improvements in the latest reading, done in August this year.
The All-Jamaican stock market composite index also confirms the gains in confidence as can be seen from the chart. The stock market index dipped ahead of the survey numbers and started the rebound earlier than the survey figures.
The future conditions index rose to its highest level on record to 175.7 from 153.0 in the previous survey while the index of present business conditions rose to 211.7 from the 186.8 attained in the previous survey. According to the country’s central bank “Both indices reflected increases in the proportion of respondents of the view that conditions are or will be “better.” In addition, there were decreases in the proportion of respondents indicating that conditions are or will be “worse.”
With the stock market moving from 178,203.70 points at the end of August to 185,329 points at the end of October, it is expected that perception of business conditions would have improved over the August levels as the stock market seems to mirror very well the sentiments of the business sector.
Rates on Treasury bill slipped in the latest issues for October with the 91 days instrument coming in at 5.7 percent, down from 5.86 percent in September and the 28 days falling to 5.78 percent a decline from 5.84 percent previously.
The 192 days Treasury bill rate inched up from 5.81 percent to 5.83 percent. The latest rate out turn, comes off changes in rates with the 192 days instrument rate at 5.75 percent February 2013, rising to hit 9.11 percent in March 2014 and been on the decline since, with a few minor hiccups along the way. The trend continues downwards with the rate of decline having slowed markedly with the Bank of Jamaica repo rate set at 5.25 percent since May.
In June, the 192 days rate climbed to 6.01 percent from a 2016 low of 5.73 percent in February, at the same time, the 91 days instrument, fell to 5.65 percent in April and moved up to 5.86 in June and September. The 28 days T-bill fell to a 2016 low of 5.37 percent in April but rose to 5.95 percent in August.
The stock market has been heavily influenced by the decline in interest rates in late 2014 to the end of 2015 has struggled since, with rates being flat in 2016 with a few cases of it having risen.
The economy that rose by 0.8 percent in the March quarter over the similar period in 2015 is up by 1.4 percent for the second quarter of 2016, compared to the similar quarter of 2015. If the trend were to continue, growth for the full year could hit 2 percent, the fastest pace of growth since 2006 with growth of 2.9 percent. The only other time since 2004 that the economy grew close the 2016 pace is 2007 when the economy grew by 1.45 percent and 1.43 percent in 2011.
Growth in 2015 over 2014 reflected an increase of 0.4 percent in the March quarter and 0.8 percent for the second quarter.
The 2016 second quarter increase, is attributed to improved performances in the Goods Producing industries 3.3 percent and the Services industries 0.8 percent but Mining & Quarrying industry declined by 1.9 percent. Increased outputs were recorded for Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing 9.4 percent, Manufacturing 0.6 percent and Construction 1.6 percent.Major growth in the service sector came from, Electricity & Water Supply grew by 5.0 percent, Hotels & Restaurants 1.3 percent, Finance & Insurance Services 1.4 percent.