T he demand for Jamaican notes and coins reached an 11-year high in December 2018, blowing out the Bank of Jamaica’s (BOJ) projection of an $18.1 billion increase in demand for the local currency during the festive season.
As at 31 December 2018, the country’s currency stock amounted to $133.5 billion, representing an annual increase of 20.4 per cent, relative to annual growth of 12.9 per cent at end-December 2017. It also comes in $5.5 billion more than the BOJ was prepared to issue to financial institutions, commercial banks, building societies and cambios for the festive season.
In a statement issued yesterday, BOJ noted that the faster currency growth possibly reflected improved GDP growth, employment and retroactive wage settlements during the period.
During the period December 24 to 31, BOJ said it recorded net currency issue of $5,457.1 billion, substantially above the Bank’s projection for net issue of $412.4 million as well as the $860.2 million currency issue for the corresponding period of 2017.
According to the Central Bank, it’s an average of $1,395.9 billion for the country over the past five years.
The currency issue for the week contributed to an overall growth of $23.6 billion or 21.4 per cent in the currency stock for December 2018, above the Bank’s projection for growth of $18.1 billion or 16.5 per cent. The increase for the month also exceeded that for December 2017 (16.5 per cent) and was the largest growth in a December month since 2007.
“When the estimated change in consumer prices is taken into account, the real annual growth in currency at end-December 2018 was 15.9 per cent, compared to 7.3 per cent for the corresponding period in 2017,” the BOJ said.