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ROSEAU, Dominica: The construction and tourism sectors in Dominica performed better in the first quarter of 2006 (Jan-March) compared to the corresponding period in 2005, according to the Central Statistical Office Quarterly Economic Indicator.

Construction activity expanded during the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year, with the number of construction starts increasing from 31 to 41. The value of construction starts also increased during the period under review rising from EC$7.98 million to $9.92 million. The sale of cement rose from 160,054 bags in the first quarter of last year to 192,254 bags in the same period this year.

In the tourism sector, total visitor expenditure (estimated) was $44.5 million in the first quarter of 2006, compared to $41.7 million in the same period last year.

The total number of visitor arrivals for the period under review was 168,604, compared to 128,404 in the same period last year largely as a result of the large number of cruise ship visitors which increased from 108,337 to 150,114. Correspondingly, there were 148 cruise ship calls in the first quarter, compared to only 105 in the same period last year.

During the period under review both imports and exports registered declines. The manufacturing sector reflected a decline in production. A slight drop was recorded for the production of beverages. In spite of this decline, the value of beverages production increased.

For the period under review, DBPL banana production declined, moving from 2,881 tonnes in the first quarter of 2005 to 2,620.4 tonnes in the first quarter of 2006. Both DBPL bananas and other bananas revenue fell, registering a decrease in total banana export revenue. Agricultural exports recorded decreases. Other agricultural exports (avocados, tarnias, ginger and pepper) also registered similar reductions, contributing to a decline in other agricultural exports. Nonetheless, Beverages exports recorded a significant increase in revenue mainly from fruit juices.

The impact of Tropical Storm Alpha in November 2005, the post effects of dry weather, the challenges in obtaining inputs, unfavourable external forces (largely from the European Union), imposition of new tariffs and the requirements of lower quantity per pallet affected banana production and revenue in the first quarter.

However information from the Dominica Banana Producers Limited suggests that a recovery in banana production following the effects of Tropical Storm Alpha last November is now firmly underway and will be reflected when data from the second quarter becomes available.

Data for the first quarter points to gains in some sectors while other sectors registered declines. The Government is confident however that the agricultural sector will record improvements in the second and third quarters. The government is also confident that the commencement of the Roseau Improvement and Maintenance Project in the third quarter as well as other private-sector-led investments will lead to more buoyancy in the Dominican economy in the near future.

Posted By: Caribbean Net News

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