Tourist arrivals climb for Jamaica

Tourist arrivals into Jamaica continue to grow, according to data released by Grupo Aeroportuario operators of international airports in Montego Bay and Kingston, with arrivals in May probably rising 13 percent above those for 2022, with 544,000 passengers processed, up from 481,400 and for the year to date an increase of 32 percent to 2.89 million from 2.196 million in 2022.

This is the clearest sign of a boom time in Jamaica’s tourism industry.

Montego Bay, the gateway with the highest number of visitors, had a bounce of 10.2 percent to 403,000 incoming and outgoing passengers, up from 366,000 and for the year to date, an increase of 30.2 percent to 2.208 million from 1.696 million in 2022 to May,
Passengers passing through the Norman Manley airport in Kingston jumped 21.9 percent to 141,100 from 115,800 and year to date, an increase of 36.2 percent to 681,700 from 500,400.

BOJ holds policy rate at 7%

Bank of Jamaica held its policy interest rate at 7 percent, citing concerns that there are likely to be temporary upticks in inflation above the target range during the June and September 2023 quarter, affected by recent increases in the cost of communication services, the national minimum wage, seasonally higher agricultural prices as well as pending increases in other regulated prices.
According to the Central Bank, annual inflation is projected to again be within the Bank’s inflation target range of 4 to 6 percent by the December 2023 quarter, but it noted that both core inflation and the consumer price indices are now within the 4-6 percent band at 5.7 and 5.8 percent up to April this year.
To continue underpinning inflation returning to the target range and to underwrite continued stability in the foreign exchange market, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) unanimously agreed to continue to hold the policy rate and maintain tight Jamaican dollar liquidity in the money market and to foster relative stability in the foreign exchange market.

Inflation rate drops in April

Inflation has finally returned to the band mandated by the Bank of Jamaica of 4 to 6 percent per annum, with the year over year rate now at 5.8 according to data released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin.) and is down from 6.2 percent in March.
The dip in the point to point inflation below 6 percent was occasioned by a fall in the All-Jamaica Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 0.4 percent for April 2023 and was influenced mainly by a 4.2 percent fall in the index for the division ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’. The movement in the division’s index was due to a reduction in the rates for electricity, which resulted in a 12.5 percent fall in the index for the group. There was also a decline in the index for the ‘Transport’ division, which moved down by 0.1 percent due mainly to reduced petrol and air travel costs. The inflation rate was, however, tempered by a 0.6 percent increase in the index for the heaviest weighted division ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages.
The inflation rate since November last year is now negative.

Treasury bill rates dip under 8%

Add your HTML code here...

Rates on Government of Jamaica Treasury bills hit their lowest level since November 2022 in this week’s auction for $2.2 billion in three tranches, due to mature in August and November this year and February 2024, resulting in rates on all three dipping under 8 percent.
The three months bill fell to 7.823 percent at this week’s auction, the lowest since November 2022, when the average rate came in at 7.96 percent. The six months instrument’s previous low of 7.96 percent in September last year came in at 7.975 percent at the recent auction and is also down from 8.32 percent in April this year. The nine months rate of 8.2 percent in July last year and 8.36 percent in April this year fell to 7.999 percent this week.
The auction saw $8.9 billion going after the three issues on the same day that $27 billion, when after the CDs that Bank of Jamaica offered, resulted in CDs rate falling under 8 percent.

BOJ CD rate dips under 8%

BOJ CD rates dipped under 8 percent for the first time since October 2022, data out of the Bank of Jamaica shows.
The Central Bank’s offer of $20 billion to the public attracted $27 billion from 216 bids in going after the amount offered with rates ranging from 7.15 percent to a high of 10.10 percent, with the highest successful rate coming in at 8.16 percent.
The average rate for accepted bids is 7.97 percent from 173 successful bids and represents the eighth consecutive fall after peaking at 10.54 percent in early March. The auction will result in the total amount of 30 days CDs standing at $104 billion, up from $101 billion previously.

Tourism bounce in April for Jamaica

Jamaica enjoyed a continued bounce in visitor arrivals in April this year compared to the year ago, data released by Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico, operators of the Sangster and Norman Manley international airports in Jamaica shows. The report shows preliminary terminal passenger traffic figures for April 2023, with Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay enjoying a 13 percent increase and Kingston Norman Manley international airports with a 25.7 percent bounce compared to 2022.

Aeroplanes line up at Sangster International Airport in January.

Montego Bay handled 454,400 passengers in April this year, up 13 percent over 402,200 for April 2022; the April 2023 passenger movement bettered the 424,700 in 2019 by 7 percent.
For the four months to April, 1,805,400 passengers passed through the airport, up 35.7 percent over the 1,330,300 for the same period in 2022 and just 2.4 percent over the 1,805,400 passengers in 2019.
Norman Manley International Airport processed 25.8 percent more passengers than the 116,400 in April 2022, with 146,500 passengers passing through the capital’s airport, marginally higher than 145,695 in April 2019. For the year to April, 540,600 passengers utilized the airport, 40.5 percent above the 384,700 that passed through in 2022 but slightly below the 548,555 handled in 2019.
While Montego Bay had fewer passengers than the 491,300 in March this year, Kingston beat out the 136,000 handled in March.

BOJ CD rate lowest since October

At the latest auction of the Bank of Jamaica Fixed Rate Certificate of Deposit held on Wednesday the average interest rate declined for a 7th consecutive week after $52.366 billion chased after the $32 billion on offer to yield an average of 8 percent some 24 percent lower than the auction March 15 when rates peaked at 10.54 percent.
Today’s rate is the lowest since October 26 last year with an average of 7.68 percent and seems like a prelude to the central bank cutting the overnight rate this month, with inflation running at the lowest level in more than three years.
The bank received 277 bids of which 214 were successful, with the highest rate submitted being 10.25 percent but the highest successful rate was just under 8.15 percent.
The auction will result in $103 billion due on the 30 days CDS, down from $108 billion last week.

BOJ CD rate falls again

Rates payable on Bank of Jamaica CD instruments declined for six consecutive weeks following applications received in response to an offer of $32 billion by the Bank of Jamaica today and resulted in an average yield of 8.11% for successful bids, down from 8.32 percent last week. 
The auction attracted 257 bids for just over $46.43 billion, with 199 successful. The lowest submitted rate was 7.5 percent and the highest at 10.25 percent, down from 11 percent in the previous auction, with a partially successful bid at 8.25 percent, down from 8.35 percent previously.
The total amount of 30 days CDs is now $103 billion, down from $106 billion last week.

More decline in interest rates

Bank of Jamaica’s latest CD offer of $20 billion attracted 186 bids amounting to $44,629,464,000, but only 75 bids were successful and resulted in the average yield of 8.32 percent for successful bids, that is down from 8.41 percent at last week’s auction and represents the fourth decline since the rates closed at 10.54 percent for the March 17 CDs.
The lowest bid at this week’s auction was 7.50 percent, down from 8 percent last week and the highest bid was 11 percent, but the highest rate for total allocation was 8.349 percent, with the highest rate for partial allocation being 8.34999 percent resulting in success for 99.30 percent of the amount applied for.
The total nominal outstanding amount for the 30-day CDs on April 21 will be $106 billion.

Government must shake up BOJ

Inflation has moderated substantially since the sharp spike in 2021 and the Bank of Jamaica has some role in it, with tighter monetary policy, but the price may be much greater than may be visible currently. A look at BOJ reports on inflation since 2021 is very worrying, when compared with the actual outcome, suggesting that the MPC that is guiding the BOJ has done a terrible job in its forecasts. This is a matter the Minister of Finance must carefully look at and so correct what is clearly a major area of concern in managing a very critical part of the country’s economy.
The job of fighting high inflation may be substantially done for this round, how efficiently was it executed is another matter that the country needs to have answered. A careful look at reports emanating from the Bank of Jamaica tells a tale of what looks more like guesswork, than scholarly assessment. Don’t take our word for it, compare BOJ’s utterances since 2021 and their outturn.
Up to April 2021, BOJ fiddled around telling the country that inflation was well under control and that it would remain within the band of 4-6 percent for two years, that’s before they quickly found out that it was not going to be so. Even then rather than acting promptly, they waited until August to announce an increase in the overnight rate, although admittedly they started to pull money out of the market earlier by way of certificate of deposits.
Something must be terribly wrong that within a month of assuring the Minister of Finance that all will be well they had a change of mind. The same thing seems to be happening currently, with inflation set to be within, or very close to the 4-6 percent range in April well ahead of the forecast made by the BOJ at their March meeting when they stated that the target would not be reached until the fourth quarter this year.
The Governor of the Central Bank informed the Ministry of Finance in April 2021, that they could not increase interest rates as that would trim economic growth. But by May 2021, they were singing a different song of higher inflation and forecast for increased rates.
In May, last year they made an erroneous statement that inflation was still moving higher and would increase over the next two months, in fact the underlying data was suggesting that it was improving. Importantly, at their last meeting at which they reviewed the state of inflation they felt so comfortable that things were in line with their forecast that the next meeting was set for May. Had they looked at the real message that had been screaming at them for 2022 and more so since November they would have taken action to reduce overnight interest rates from then.
The MPC release stated, “Annual inflation is projected to continue to fall to the Bank’s inflation target range of 4.0 to 6.0 per cent by the December 2023 quarter. One-off regulated price adjustments may, however, result in a temporary uptick in inflation.”
“Notwithstanding these positive developments, the MPC noted that the risks to the inflation outlook remain elevated. In a context where the domestic economy continues to grow, labour market shortages carry the potential for future wage adjustments that can put upward pressure on inflation. Higher inflation could also result from a worsening in supply chain conditions and higher commodity prices if there are further geo-political disruptions. Among the factors that could lead to lower-than-projected inflation, weaker-than-expected global growth could negatively affect domestic demand, and some projected adjustments to regulated prices may not materialise.”
Therefore, to continue underpinning inflation returning to the target range and to underwrite continued stability in the foreign exchange market, the MPC unanimously agreed to hold the policy interest rate at 7 percent, to maintain tight Jamaican dollar liquidity in the money market and to continue fostering relative stability in the foreign exchange market. The Bank’s liquidity management strategy incorporates the impact of the one percentage point increase in the domestic and the foreign currency Cash Reserve Requirements applicable to DTIs, effective 01 April 2023.”