We have a Stable Economy Says Statistical Institute of Belize Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 29 May 2014 00:00

In the first quarter of 2014, the Belizean economy contracted by 0.4 percent; however, the results of a recently conducted Labour Force Survey by the Statistical Institute of Belize will likely show that the country’s unemployment rate has also decreased.

From January to March of 2014, crude oil extraction fell by 23 percent (from 221,000 barrels in 2013 to 170,000 barrels) as the Spanish Lookout wells are bottoming out. Production in the agricultural sector fell significantly. Earnings from sugarcane, citrus and banana fell by 30 percent. The Citrus Greening Disease has a lot to do with the strong decline in the industry but disagreements between farmers and the company also played a significant part in low citrus products output. Earnings from exporting sugar decreased by $16 million in the first quarter of this year. Because of disagreements between farmers and the company, the crop season which was scheduled to start in mid November was delayed until January. Banana production fell only slightly because of unfavourable weather conditions at the beginning of the year.

Offsetting the rapid depletion of Spanish Lookout crude oil, the dismal production of key agricultural products and the disappointing manufacturing output in the first quarter of 2014 are robust increases in water and electricity generation, record tourist arrivals, a flourishing aquaculture sector and the eleventh consecutive quarter of growth in the construction sector. Electricity generation increased by an impressive 50 percent due to increased rainfall which resulted in a surge of hydroelectricity generation. The hotels and restaurant sector grew by roughly 13 percent due in large part to double figure increases in the number of both overnight and cruise tourist arrivals. There was a 20 percent growth in the fishing sector, due in large part to the performance of the Belize Shrimp Growers Association. According to the Association, Belize has benefited from better prices in Mexico due to the disease that has severely affected their shrimp production. Glen Avilez, Director General of SIB, says the construction sector is now one of the key pillars of the economy. It has the longest streak of consecutive quarters of growth at eleven. The construction sector grew by over 6 percent in the first quarter of the year. This is a direct result of the national infrastructure project of the Government of Belize.

The Statistical Institute of Belize will release the results of its April Labour Force Survey at the end of June. Avilez says that although the economy contracted by 0.4 percent, “it is quite likely that the unemployment rate has gone down.” This is because the sectors performing well are job creators such as the tourism and construction sector.