Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Michael Holness today underscored his commitment to easing the tax burden on Jamaican families, as a key part of building a Government based on partnership for prosperity.
Delivering his inaugural address at his Swearing-in Ceremony at King’s House today (March 3), Mr. Holness cited partnership with families, the Opposition, the private sector and the international community, while coordinating and holding his Government to account, as key elements of the plan.
Explaining how the partnership with families will work the Prime Minister stated that, “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 growing the general wellbeing of the society.”
He added, “ Our Government commits to creating the environment in which families can flourish and form communities of social mobility from which every ghetto youth can be a star. However, every family member must play his or her part by being personally, socially and economically responsible.”
He implored families to invest the funds from the tax relief wisely. “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 wellbeing.”
As part of the support for families, Mr. Holness further committed to continuing the policy of tuition-free education, and no user fee for health care.He added that the Government will enable families to save in an education bond for their children’s education and in a national health insurance scheme for their health care.
With respect to partnership with the Opposition, Prime Minister Holness paid tribute to former Prime Minister Portia Simpson for her long and dedicated service to the country, observing that while they are “on different sides of the road,” they should as much as possible hold hands in cooperation to overcome the obstacles for the good of the country.
Turning to investment, the Prime Minister outlined a model of economic development in which the private sector and not Government, is 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. I am sure we will agree that much of Jamaica’s development has been achieved without growth which has left us with much debt. This is unsustainable,” Mr. Holness declared.
“We want the private sector to unleash investments 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,” Mr. Holness said.
Outlining the role of Government in the partnership, Mr. Holness stated that his Administration will be responsible for ensuring the rule of law; creating a safe, secure and fair environment for business; making markets where none exists; ensuring transparency and access to information and creating an efficient and supportive public sector bureaucracy.
“I will ensure that Government is coordinated; decisions are taken quickly; targets are set; the nation is informed and everyone under my appointment is held to account for actions taken and lack thereof,” Mr. Holness noted.
Additionally, the new Prime Minister 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 naïve 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.”
Mr. Holness further declared that, “The sum total of our potential exceeds our problem; our collective capabilities are greater than our challenges, but it is only through partnership that these capabilities and this potential can be seized, harnessed and realised for the good of Jamaica.”
Those attending the Swearing-in Ceremony included, former Prime Ministers; regional heads of State; members of the diplomatic corps; business leaders; members of the Jamaica Labour Party; members of the Opposition, People’s National Party; and well-wishers.
The youngest Prime Minister to serve Jamaica, Mr. Holness took the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath Office, and was presented with His Instrument of Appointment by Governor-General His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen. Mr. Holness was later conferred with the Order of the Nation by Chief Justice the Hon. Zaila McCalla, OJ.