Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Fresh hope for J’cans – Holness admits difficult first year, but confident country now positioned for economic growth

Published:Friday | February 24, 2017 | 2:00 AMArthur Hall
Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is confident that his administration has brought fresh hope to Jamaicans in the almost one year that it has formed the Government.

Tomorrow marks one year since he led the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to a one-seat win over the People's National Party (PNP) in the general elections.

Reflecting on what he admits was a difficult year, Holness says that the administration's management of the economy has made more Jamaicans confident in the country's economic future.

According to the prime minister, the fact that his administration was able to implement the campaign promise to increase the income tax threshold, without an economic disruption, has been a major positive.

"We were able to fulfil our promises of tax relief for persons earning $1.5 million or less, and that will contribute significantly to the economic growth in the future. I believe it has restored a sense of hopefulness to the working classes in the country," Holness told The Gleaner.

"While that has been a major highlight, there has been a general sense of hopefulness in the society, certainly as reflected in both the consumer index and the business confidence index. People are now saying we are going to invest again, and we are seeing a kind of energy for future investments that we have not seen in a long time. There is actually hope that the country will grow and employment will increase."

DOUBLE EMPLOYMENT

According to the prime minister, confidence is being seen mainly in the tourism and business processing and outsourcing (BPO) sectors. He said that the BPO sector is projected to more than double the number of persons employed in the next two years, while tourism is set to boom.

Holness shared that the priority for his administration in the first year was to maintain a stable fiscal policy, increase economic growth, and increase job creation.

"We have been very focused on economic growth. My argument has been that the focus of Government must be about how we end poverty in Jamaica. It is about our economic independence and not so much about our political independence," the prime minister stressed.

arthur.hall@gleanerjm.com