Holness offers 10-point plan for growth and job creation

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is serious about growing the economy and creating jobs, Holness said in a public broadcast last night.

“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,” Holness told the nation.

Holness’ 10-point plan:

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 stop 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 JLP 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 JLP will 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,” Holness said.

He concluded that the JLP was “united, strong and ready to give good government and a real chance for progress”.

“The decision is yours, continue with things stagnant as they are, or grasp the opportunity to join with us in a Partnership for Prosperity and change things for the better. Choose prosperity,” he said.

Jamaica Observer