Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Green showers to hit Mobay - Holness set to defend 10-point plan

Published:Sunday | February 7, 2016 | 2:00 AM
Oppostion Leader Andrew Holness arrives at a Jamaica Labour Party meeting in Junction, St Elizabeth last Thursday.

Green shower is expected to fall in Montego Bay, St James, today as the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) makes another major push to capture voters from the section of the island which has often decided general elections.

JLP leader Andrew Holness is billed as the star attraction at today's mass meeting scheduled for Sam Sharpe Square, and he has promised to use the stage to add more details to the 10-point plan he placed on the table during an address to the nation last week.

"It should interest the public to note that the Opposition has been thoughtful and practical in our focus on policies and initiatives that will spur growth and provide jobs for our people.

"The 10-point plan we have presented is a firm commitment to the people of Jamaica. We give firm commitment; we don't make promises," said Holness, even as some commentators questioned the practicality of some of the measures.

PRACTICAL, ACHIEVABLE

According to Holness, the 10-point plan is practical, achievable and relevant to all Jamaicans. And there is still more to come.

"Our 10-point plan offers something to everyone, especially the poor, unemployed and working-class Jamaican. It is a well-thought-out and bankable plan of action to truly move Jamaica forward and relieve the people of the pain and suffering they are enduring at this time," said Holness.

Holness 10-point plan

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

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 practise 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 and estate taxes. In addition, 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 J$1.5 million 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 Urban Development Corporation and Factories Corporation. They all have significant asset bases which can be properly packaged and placed on the stock market with realistic investment plans. This will 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 the synergies in our economic growth plan.

6. We will reform the National Housing Trust, the Housing Agency and the Mortgage Bank to expand affordable housing construction and reduce interest rates on mortgages. We will create a special inter generational 50 to 60 year mortgage, which will make home ownership and payments easier.

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.

8. Economic growth must mean jobs for our people. We are committed to improving the skills of Jamaicans to attract high value investments to sustain long-term economic growth. We are particularly excited about our training, education and skills policy. All our young people should be in a job or in school, and if not, they will have the opportunity to develop their knowledge, skills, and attitudes 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 digitise 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 another example of our coordinated economic growth and job creation strategy.

10. We will revitalise 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, together with the Vernamfield corridor. As another example of our coordinated thinking, this will be partially funded by the listing of the UDC on the stock market.