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Lower oil price brings first current account surplus in a decade

JAMAICA recorded its first quarterly current account surplus in a decade due in part to sustained reductions in oil prices, stated the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) this week.

It's the latest improved indicator for the island on the path to economic recovery.

The current account surplus totalled US$39.4 million (J $4.6 b) for the period January to

March 2015. The island mainly benefited from imports which fell at twice the pace of the decline in exports over the period.

"This marked the country's first quarterly surplus since the period January to March 2004," stated the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) in its balance of payments update released this week.

Specifically, the current account surplus resulted from the US$544.1 million current transfers account which includes grants and remittances offsetting the goods and services deficit at US$454.1 million and the income account deficit at US$50.6 million.

"With regard to the smaller deficit on the goods sub-account, this primarily reflected a contraction of US$220.9 million in fuel imports in the context of a 50.7 per cent drop in oil prices on the world market," stated the report, which added that the decline in oil prices was partially offset by rises in the importation of printed material, telecommunication devices and pharmaceuticals.

The report also indicated that the services sub-account benefited from lower freight charges on imports as well as increased earnings from tourism in the context of growth of 5.0 per cent in stopover visitor arrivals for the review quarter. However, payments for insurance and other business services increased for the review period.

"For the current transfers sub-account, the decline in the surplus stemmed largely from lower official grant inflows, the impact of which was partly offset by an expansion of 2.5 per cent in private remittances. The income sub-account was largely unchanged," stated the BOJ.

Courtesy: Jamaica Observer

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