(CMR) Despite concluding 2019 with a strong economy, growing at a rate of about three percent per annum, Finance Minister Roy Mc Taggart said under the best case scenario Cayman’s GDP would contract by 11.4 percent.
McTaggart further shared that the number of displaced jobs is estimated at 8,859 for an unemployment rate of 18.7 percent of which 2,772 would be Caymanian jobs.
“In the best-case scenario considered by the ESO, the local economy would be reopened by the beginning of July 2020. This scenario also assumed that visitors to these islands would begin to arrive in October of this year, although in small numbers,” said McTaggart.
“Under this scenario, GDP is projected to contract by 11.4% with the employment rate rising to 11.6%. The number of displaced jobs is estimated at 8,859 for an unemployment rate of 18.7 percent of which 2,772 would be Caymanian jobs,” added McTaggart.
According to McTaggart, the scenarios are conditioned on the gradual return of visitors to cayman shores at a rate of 20% of normal levels that would usually be seen in the high tourism season.
In a worst-case scenario, which would be a reality if international developments prevented the return of tourists to Cayman’s shores for the rest of the year, the country would see a further uptick in unemployment.
McTaggart said that, in a worst-case scenario, GDP is projected to contract 12.2% with the unemployment rate rising to 12.3%
What’s worse is that for Caymanians this number would be higher, with Mc Taggart noting that Caymanian unemployment was expected to increase by up to 19.7% or 2,981 persons – a total job loss of 9,582 or 12.3% would be displaced.
“It is really disheartening for me to have to say that but it is a stark reality of what we are likely to face moving forward,” said McTaggart.
“But still our government will continue to tell you the unvarnished truth,” added McTaggart.
McTaggart sought to cushion the poor forecast, initially, by sharing details from the International Monetary Fund’s(IMF), April 2020 World Economic Outlook.
The IMF projects that the region will contract by 5.2% with Aruba projected to show the largest contraction with a GDP decline of 13.7%.
“Regional GDP decline projected for other countries include Antigua and Barbuda down 10%, Barbados down 7.6%, St Lucia down 8.5 %, The Bahamas down 8.3% and Jamaica down 5.6%to name a few, I hope this will give you some well-needed context to our economic projections,” added McTaggart.