Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke says Jamaica is in for a negative economic shock.
Commenting on the trajectory of the coronavirus (COVID-19) globally and the start of community spread locally and measures aimed at containing the virus, Clarke said: “We need to be prepared for the worst and be ready for a very significant growth setback.”
“Under these circumstances, the sharpness of the economic decline in the first quarter or two could lead to negative growth overall for the 2020/21 financial year, depending on how quickly tourism and other services resume and recommencement of employment generation in the country.”
Presenting his closing budget presentation on Tuesday, Clarke said very tough decision making is required in Jamaica at this time.
Clarke outlined challenges facing the economy.
According to the finance minister, the hotel industry will operate at near-zero occupancy for at least three months.
Some local hotels have already announced that they will close for some time and more will likely follow.
Clarke further noted that with the airport shut for two weeks, visitor arrivals will plummet to zero in the short term and “for the quarter ending June 2020 we may only have a trickle of guests.”
This, he said, means that restaurants, tour operators, attractions, travel agencies will also experience significant and substantial fall in business revenue and some of these may also need to close temporarily.