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El próximo 25 de febrero Jamaica celebrará sus elecciones generales. Se escogerán los 65 escaños de la Cámara de Representantes y el líder de la agrupación política que obtenga más bancas será electo primer ministro para los próximos cinco años. Se presentan un total de 152 candidatos que pertenecen al gobernante Partido Popular Nacional de Jamaica (PNP), de los opositores Partido Laborista (JLP), Movimiento Nacional Democrático y Partido Político del Pueblo, además de algunos independientes.

‘Not a 10-point sound bite’

The governing People’s National Party (PNP) yesterday launched its long-awaited manifesto in which it lists “21 further steps” it promises to take to move the country forward, under what Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips labelled “a programme of development that is credible, achievable and growth-oriented”.

At the same time, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller described the 68-page document as a tangible basis for hope, and said her party has laid the foundation for sustainable and substantial economic growth.

“We’re not putting forward a 10-point sound bite,” she said, poking fun at the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP’s) 10-point plan for economic growth, which has generated lively debate since it was presented by Opposition Leader Andrew Holness in a national broadcast earlier this month.

He said the plans and programmes are based on a “realistic assessment of economic growth” fuelled by both foreign and local investments.

Chief among the plans outlined in the manifesto is a proposal to reduce personal income tax and general consumption tax rates, which form part of the party’s tax reform measures. Phillips, however, declined to specify by how much the taxes would be adjusted, neither would he give implementation timelines.

“I think the point to be made is that we have raised the [income tax] threshold three times in the past. We will continue to do this. We also intend, over time, to reduce the rates. I am not going to give here a commitment as to pace of doing so precisely, because our intention is ultimately to continue to maintain a balanced budget and to reduce our debt,” Phillips said, adding that this was the prudent thing to do.

“Economic growth, as our manifesto shows, will first of all rest on fiscal restraint and the reduction of the still high levels of public debt, which constitute the main fetter to investment in our physical infrastructure and our social institutions,” Phillips said.

The party, he said, has committed to providing, at minimum, 100,000 jobs over the next five years, 30,000 of which will be generated in the tourism sector through the construction of hotel rooms, and another 20,000 would come from the business process outsourcing sector. The party also said it would continue to grow the overseas employment programme.

The PNP also touted its brainchild Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme as another source for job creation, outlining that it has provided employment for approximately 61,407 people since it was launched with an estimated expenditure of $9.2 billion.

Phillips added the party was committed to easing the task of doing business in the country, fiscal consolidation, price stability, maintenance of low inflation, and public/private partnerships.

Simpson Miller reiterated some of the points made by Phillips and said the plans are drawn and refined.

“We’re not just building an economy,“ she said, “we’re moulding and shaping a nation”.

In a swift response, the JLP criticised the PNP’s manifesto, insisting that it is cliché and repetitive.

“Behind the glossy pages and stock photos of a Jamaica that does not exist under the PNP’s Government, there is more of the same promises that have been made time and time again. The one difference is the fact that every new election their promises get more expensive,” the JLP said in a news release.

The Opposition party said the manifesto “comes with a huge a price tag, but little State resources to fund this extravagant expenditure”.

“Our people can no longer afford this Government. For far too long the PNP has used the Jamaican people as an ATM. Jamaica deserves a new Government with fresh ideas that will modernise and grow our economy, not the Government. We cannot continue to increase government spending while people struggle to feed their family,” the JLP release said, adding that it has already outlined a Partnership for Prosperity with the Jamaican people in its 10-point plan.

Jamaica Observer

PNP outlines ’21 Further Steps To Progress’ in manifestoe

The ruling People’s National Party (PNP) on Tuesday unveiled its development plan for Jamaica should it be re-elected in the February 21 General Election.

See below the PNP’s ’21 Further Steps to Progress’ outlined in its manifesto launched on Tuesday:

1) Add at least 100,000 new jobs over the next five years. This will include improving the room stock in the hotel industry by over 14,000 in the next decade, creating more than 40,000 permanent jobs as well as a special youth employment programme that will place 10,000 persons in new jobs.

2) Continue to actively support a national security policy that increasingly empowers citizens, promotes security, peace and safety in communities while reinforcing a culture of lawfulness and public order.

3) Establish a single anti-corruption agency to replace the Parliamentary Integrity Commission, the Office of the Contractor General and the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, to enable the more efficient fight of corruption in Jamaica.

4) Eliminate the shift system in both primary and secondary schools to allow maximum contact time for both teaching and learning, thus contributing to the push to raise educational standards. Accelerate the expansion of the school feeding programme as part of poverty alleviation, to respond to the needs of more students and in support regular attendance at school.

5) Increase investments in order to develop a better trained and more productive labour force to help achieve our national development goals. Our focus will be on the increase application of science and technologyand integrating training programmes appropriate to the 21st century.

6) Continue the extensive modernization of the country’s physical infrastructure in order to expand the opportunities for agriculture, tourism, housing and commercial development as part of our growth agenda.

7) Accelerate the programme to build a logistic-centred economy, develop special economic zones and remove constraints in doing business, while placing emphasis on integrating manufacturing with other sectors in the domestic economy.

8) Facilitate investment in the provision of increased space for business process outsourcing through the combined efforts of the Factories Corporation, the port Authority and the Development Bank of Jamaica.

9) Transform MSMEs into competitive enterprises by building capacity, expanding entrepreneurship through training in marketing, leadership communication and technical skills and providing financing through the Development Bank of Jamaica.

10) Accelerate the modernization and expansion of the agricultural sector that will be supported by increased investment and the repair and rehabilitation of 41 farm roads across the island.

11) Continue the programme to diversify sources of energy – solar, wind and liquefied natural gas technologies.

12) Create and Facilitate housing solutions to increase substantially the number of Jamaican families who own and live in their own homes. Special priority will be given to satisfying the demand in the lowest income bracket.

13) Improve the quality of health care in our major hospitals, while upgrading community health care facilities across the country. Emphasis will be placed on access and accountability of health care for all with special attention to children to children and senior citizens, improving the benefits available through NHF, JADEP and NI Gold. We will also establish a full integrated medical cannabis and nutraceutical.

14) Develop a national shelter strategy for victims of gender-based violence. This will include the construction of four shelters for the protection of women who experience sexual or physical abuse.

15) Establish a cultural and creative industries enhancement fund, develop a creative economy policy and an overarching master plan to support the creation of an enabling environment for the growth and development of the cultural and creative industries.

16) Create a modern Jamaica Council for Person with Disabilities to direct and guide the programmes of policies impacting peoples with disabilities and establish a Disabilities Rights Tribunal to adjudicate complaints of discrimination.

17) Establish a National Agency for Meteorology and Climate Change Reliance, while implementing an integrate approach to restoring and managing our watershed management units.

18) Continue as a matter of priority the implementation of tax reform to further lower the rates of taxes including income tax, both personal and corporate as well GCT, transfer tax and asset tax as the fiscal situation improves. Expand the range of tax relief measures available under the Urban Renewal Act for the Kingston Metropolitan Area and extend relief to significant urban centres in rural Jamaica.

19) Expand new and existing sewerage systems in the Kingston Metropolitan region.

20) Continue the transformation of the public sector to make it a more efficient customer service oriented sector, an enabling environment which supports the further growth and development of entities as a vehicle for stimulating investment and broadening the base of ownership, including through listings on the Jamaica Stock Exchange and Junior Market.

21) Continue our work in foreign affairs and foreign trade while strengthening our relationship with Jamaicans in the Diaspora.