Government to focus on family
With his wife sharing not only parliamentary privileges but a piece of parliamentary history as well, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has promised to set both the stage for and examples of the value of good family life.
During his inaugural address at King's House yesterday, Holness noted with a straight face that he had "now (been) joined" in Parliament by his life partner, Juliet.
Holness declared: "Family is the ultimate partnership."
It is the first time in Jamaica's political history that both prime minister and spouse will be sitting in any of the two Houses of Parliament at the same time.
Holness stressed that the Government would be focusing resources to support families.
According to Holness, by increasing the income tax threshold to $1.5 million, the economic power of households would be restored, allowing them to participate in not only growing the country's GDP but, more important, in growing the general well-being of the society.
During the election campaign, Holness promised to remove income tax from salaries under $1.5 million.
Holness said that the $592,000 tax exemption would continue to apply to persons earning between $1.5 million and $5 million, while the salaries of persons earning $5 million or more would be taxed in their entirety.
Said Holness: "Our Government will ease your tax burden, but you must spend and invest wisely, use the additional money to acquire a house for your family, or improve the house you already have, or buy Jamaican-made goods."
This, he added, is how the Government will increase local effective demand in housing, manufacturing, and agriculture.
"This is how you can play a part in creating jobs while satisfying your well-being," he declared.
Added Holness: "We will continue our policy of tuition-free education and no-user-fee access to health care."
ENHANCE HEALTH CARE
Holness said that this would enable families to save in an education bond for their children's education and in a national health insurance scheme to enhance health care.
"We will enhance our social safety net for vulnerable families and will provide support for parents in crisis," he said.
"But you must be responsible and send your children to school. Our men must take care of their children, and couples must be responsible in having children they can afford."
Holness said that his Government has committed to creating the environment in which families can flourish and form communities of social mobility from which every ghetto youth can become a star.
"However, every family member must do his or her part by being personally, socially, and economically responsible," he said.