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Wednesday, 03 February 2016 21:36

Don't be deceived, Holness tells Jamaicans in Address to the Nation

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Andrew Holness, Jamaica Labour Party leader Andrew Holness, Jamaica Labour Party leader Peter Simmonds/Mystic5 Media Services

In a broadcast to the nation this evening, leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Andrew Holness blasted the governing People's National Party (PNP) while outlining several reasons why the electorate should elect his administration on February 25, 2016, the date Jamaicans will vote to elect a new government.

See below full transcript for Mr Holness' presentation.

My fellow Jamaicans, it is decision time. One choice is to keep things as they are…stagnant: no jobs, no economic growth, a broken health systems, the sliding dollar, but above all, a government that fails to protect its citizens, hold its officials to account, and inspire hope.

The government points to passing IMF tests as the main reason to keep them in power, which means keeping things as they are. To pass the IMF tests the government uses a tax and cut strategy. They reach in to our pockets, take more taxes and cut spending below what is required on the things that are important to us. And after increasing our taxes and suppressing our wages, the government now wants to charge fees for schools and hospitals.

Don't be deceived, it is the hardship you endured as taxpayers and workers that passed the IMF test. You are my persons of the year.

There are more tests to come and that is why they want an election before the new Budget is read. What are they hiding? According to the ninth IMF review, if the government maintains the current tax and cut strategy to pass the tests, tougher measures will have to be implemented to reduce the wage bill. For many this means job cuts and more taxes?

The government must come clean before the election and tell the people what is the real deal? What is the real deal with the Job creation test, they have failed that, what is the real deal with the economic growth test, they have failed that, what is the real deal with the health test, they have failed that again and again. What is the real deal with just being able to afford the basics of life, they have failed you!

There is hope, the Jamaica Labour Party has a plan to pass your tests, create jobs, and pay down the debt at the same time. As observed by President Obama when he visited last year, the best way to do this is to grow our economy really fast. We cannot continue to deprive and tax ourselves into poverty. Instead we must grow into prosperity. Prosperity means a bubbling economy creating jobs, and giving you the power and independence in your hands to improve your life.

The Jamaica Labour Party is serious about growing the economy and creating jobs, this is our track record, this is what makes us different from the Government. We have the prosperity plan to grow the economy, create real jobs and improve your life. Here’s how:

1. We will reform government and establish a Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

This ministry will ensure that investments are rapidly facilitated to avoid government obstacles, such as one agency giving approval to mine sand for the construction of a hotel and another agency placing a stops order on the activity. That doesn't make any sense.

This ministry will cultivate public private partnerships, to creatively bring to life economic opportunities. It will ensure the coordination of resources to minimize red tape and maximize synergies and efficiencies.

2. We will immediately restore the benefits at the Junior Stock Market to grow equity financing for the expansion of small to medium size businesses, as they form the stable base for job creation.

3. We are committed in principle and practice to real reform of the tax system. This means leaving you with more of your income to save or invest. This means lower taxes and a business friendly tax system. We will again reduce transfer taxes, stamp duties, estate taxes, and as our economy grows. To help our economy grow and help you take care of your families, we will get rid personal income tax for everyone who earns a gross salary of JA$1.5m or less. So nurses, policemen and women, teachers, public sector workers, and young people starting out, the Jamaica Labour Party will give you a break, because we know you need one.

4. Apart from divestment of loss making government entities to which we are already committed, we will list on the Jamaica Stock Exchange several state owned enterprises such as the UDC and Factories Corporation. They all have significant asset bases which can be properly packaged and placed on the stock market with realistic investment plans would unleash the economic and job creation potential latent in these assets.

5. Jamaica’s water infrastructure is inadequate, we will fix it. We will make strategic capital investments in water. Jamaica is not short of water, this government does not know how to manage our water. There are still too many households and farms without reliable water supply. The investment in water will reduce the impact of drought on the economy, but it will also boost agriculture and housing construction. This is an example of synergy in our economic growth plan.

6. We will reform the NHT, the Housing Agency and the Mortgage Bank to expand affordable housing construction and reduce interest rates on mortgages. We will create a special intergenerational 50 to 60 year mortgage which will make home ownership and payments easier. It is the Jamaican dream to own a home, whether you are a household helper or a young professional, and the Jamaica Labour Party help you make that dream come true..

7. We will create a special council of investment ambassadors who will be tasked to specially seek out large investors from all over the world and bring them to Jamaica. Jamaica must improve its international profile as an investment destination and not merely as an emerging market to lend money. We will complete the work we started to develop Jamaica as an International Business Centre. All our foreign missions will be tasked for economic diplomacy as the main objective. Our foreign policy must support our economic priorities.

8. Economic growth must mean jobs for our people. While we will seek investments that match the available skill sets, we are committed to improving the skills of Jamaicans to attract high value investments to sustain long term economic growth. Among other human resource development plans, we are particularly excited about our compulsory education and skills policy. All your young people who are not in a job or currently in school will have the opportunity to develop their knowledge, skills, and attitude through a National Apprenticeship Programme and a National Service Programme, where they earn stipend and gain work experience and certification.

9. We will advance Jamaica as a digital society. An important step on this part is to digitize all government records, and business processes. This will improve the efficiency and accessibility of government. And this is just one area in which we will employ the young people we have trained under the national apprenticeship and service programmes . This is an example of our coordinated economic growth and job creation strategy.

10. We will revitalize and rebuild our town centres and cities. There is so much value lying idle in our real estate in blighted urban areas. However government has to lead the way with a clear, vision, policy and commitment to partnering with the private sector to get this done. We will start with the redevelopment of the Kingston waterfront and market district. And as another example of our coordinated thinking, this will be partially funded by the listing of the UDC on the stock market.

These are just 10 of the many innovative and exciting things we will do to place Jamaica on the path to economic growth and job creation, the path to prosperity. The Jamaica Labour Party is united, strong and ready to give you good government and real chance for progress. The decision is yours, continue with things stagnant as they are, or grasps the opportunity to join with us in a Partnership for Prosperity and change things for the better. Choose prosperity.

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