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ESO says economy is up

The Economics and Statistics Office (ESO) has published their statistics for the first quarter of 2011 and report, surprisingly, a growth of 1.2%. This compares with a growth of only 0.9% estimated for the whole of 2011.

I say surprisingly because it doesn’t seem like it. Many of the small businesses we spoke to are saying the opposite. A look at all the recently vacated office space being offered for rents considerably lower than the beginning of last year gives a different story. Building permits fell by a staggering 19.4% and this is the lowest level in five years. The gloom from the small businesses is borne out as the merchandise imports fell by 1.6% and adding that to the 5.7% fall in the same quarter you can see there is not much to celebrate. There is a near 25% drop in work permits over the last year and a half and this void has not been filled by Caymanians as their job figures have declined too. The total outstanding national debt has also increased by nearly 10.5% to $561 million.

There are some good signs. The overall declines are lessening; new company registrations have increased, property transfers have also gone up (based on some big money land deals but not on actual numbers of properties sold) and one very encouraging statistic – cruise ship and air passenger arrivals have increased.

We must be upbeat and this is reflected in the premier’s statement on the economy. If only the cost of gas would decline!


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