8 March 2016
Volume 39, Number 10
Jamaica’s new Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, has said at his swearing in on March 3 that he will keep his commitment to ease the tax burden on Jamaican families and will focus on private sector led economic growth and national inclusivity.
Delivering his inaugural address, Mr Holness cited a partnership with families, the private sector, the international community, and the opposition, as all being key elements in his future approach.
“By increasing the income tax threshold we will restore the economic power of households to participate in not only growing the GDP, but more importantly grow the general well-being of society,” he said.
Calling on families to invest the funds from the tax relief wisely, he said: “You must spend the additional money to acquire a house for your family or improve the house you already have, or buy Jamaican-made goods. This is how we increase local effective demand in housing, manufacturing and agriculture. This is how you can play a part in creating jobs while satisfying your well-being.”
He said his government will enable families to save into an education bond for their children’s education and into a national health insurance scheme for their health care while protecting tuition-free education, and there continuing to be no user fee for health care.
In a tribute to the former Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, he observed that while they were “on different sides of the road,” they should as much as possible hold hands in co-operation to overcome obstacles for the good of the country.
Turning to investment, the Prime Minister outlined a model of economic development in which he said that the private sector and not government would be the main investor.
“Going forward, Jamaica’s development must rest on its ability to create propositions of value and attract investments to convert the value into wealth… The priority of this government is to grow the economy and create meaningful jobs. In so doing, we will more rapidly and sustainably reduce debt,” Mr Holness said.
“We want the private sector to unleash investment in the local economy. We want to see the return of the pioneering drive to create new industries, the entrepreneurial willingness to take risk and innovative insight to do things better,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr Holness pledged to continue the principle of joint oversight of Jamaica’s economic programme and performance as part of strengthened collaboration with the international community. “We are not naive about the challenges we face regarding our debt and the need to maintain fiscal discipline. We recognise the importance of, and value our relationship with our bilateral partners. These relationships have been critical to preserving stability, but we must build on this in a productive partnership with them, to achieve inclusive growth and job creation.”
In an early move to support his growth led approach, the Prime Minister announced that he would create a super ministry, the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, which will integrate all government agencies that are instrumental to growth and job creation in Jamaica. He said that he will take change of the new entity and will be assisted as ministers without portfolio by Daryl Vaz, Derrick Smith and Horace Chang.
In Opposition, Mr Holness had said that a growth minister was necessary in light of Jamaica’s programme with the International Monetary Fund and low average rates of growth.
Jamaica’s new Prime Minister has also named his new cabinet as follows:
Andrew Holness, Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of Economic Growth and Job Creation;
Horace Chang, Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister;
Derrick Smith, Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister;
Daryl Vaz, Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister;
Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs;
Audley Shaw, Minister of Finance and Public Service;
Fayval Williams, Minister of State in Ministry of Finance and Public Service;
Rudyard Spencer, Minister of State in Ministry of Finance and Public Service;
Karl Samuda, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture;
JC Hutchinson, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture;
Robert Montague, Minister of National Security;
Senator Pearnel Charles Jr., Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security;
Delroy Chuck, Minister of Justice;
Senator Ruel Reid, Minister of Education, Youth and Information;
Floyd Green, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information;
Andrew Wheatley, Minister of Energy, Science and Technology;
Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government;
Mike Henry, Minister of Transport and Mining;
Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism;
Dr Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health;
Shahine Robinson, Minister of Labour and Social Security;
Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Minister of Entertainment, Sport, Culture and Gender;
Marlene Malahoo Forte, Attorney General.
This is an extract from the Caribbean Council’s leading weekly editorially independent publication, Caribbean Insight, which provides in depth information on current economic, political and commercial developments in the Caribbean and news on events in Europe and the US that affect the region. Business people, academics, and those with a general interest in the Caribbean find it an invaluable tool for developing and maintaining knowledge and providing an insight into political, economic and commercial events in the region.
The publication is available internationally on a subscription-only basis. SUBSCRIBE NOW