Briefing | Holness' big plans for Jamaica
How did his
Prime minister Andrew Holness delivered his Budget presentation last week Tuesday. As part of the new fiscal management regime, Jamaica will put legislation in place to have a fixed election date in an attempt to reduce the effect of the election on the budget cycle and to reduce uncertainty surrounding the election period.
In addition, a Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation has been created. This ministry will:
1. Increase public dialogue on the importance of economic growth;
2. Advise the Government on how to achieve growth in specific sectors;
3. Monitor the progress and implementation of items one and two; and
4. Actively promote investment opportunities to attract investment in growth-prone areas.
A National Policy Office will be established alongside the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation to plan and execute economic growth policy. The National Growth Council will be staffed by technocrats drafted from the existing ministries, departments and agencies within the Government. They will corroborate the work of the growth council.
It is the Government's intention as well to establish the Jamaica House Fellowship Programme, which will partner young minds with technocrats of the Government of Jamaica on two-year fellowship programmes to contribute to government policy.
How will it
It will improve public sector transformation and modernisation by continuing to improve public services through the use of information and communications technology. It will launch the electronic business registration system, a one-stop centre for business registration. This will reduce the time taken to register a business from three days to one day. The Government will also establish a revenue administration and information system geared towards improving web services, related to paying and filing taxes.
The Government aims also to centralise core function of the ministries, departments and agencies in an attempt to reduce cost to the Government and increase efficiency. The implementation of shared services, for example, legal, corporate, property management, etc., will be centralised.
The Government hopes to privatise or divest the following: Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston Container Terminal, Caymanas Track Limited, Jamaica Railway Corporation, Jamaica Mortgage Bank, Wigton Wind Farm, Petrojam Ethanol, 42.6 per cent of the shares in KIW International, and it plans to sell the commercial assets of the Cocoa Industry Board.
To provide transparency and improve application tracking, the Government will establish a public portal for development applications and a computer software system for development application and approval process. The Government also intends to amend the necessary regulations to make electronic filing and processing of building and land development applications.
The Government has the intention to digitise health records and create a platform to integrate the health information system. This will enable medical practitioners to more efficiently retrieve patient information, reduce patient waiting time and allow for better continuity of care and integration of health services, which will ultimately improve the overall efficiency of heath service administration.
How does it plan to increase economic activity?
The Government is currently in negations to establish dry-docking facilities; plans are in place to implement facilities to conduct crewing and bunkering activities as well. The initial facility will hire approximately 500 Jamaicans in an attempt to expand a brand-new industry on the island.
To increase access to markets and islandwide transportation, the Government intends to revitalise the railway services.
There are plans also to turn the island's solid waste into energy. There is also the renewable energy initiative, which will help to diversify the country's energy sources. The Government also plans to establish a nutraceutical industry. Start-Up Jamaica will help to transform the country from a consumer to a producer of technology. It plans to review the nation's trade policy and the relationship with the Caribbean Community.
What about the poor and disadvantaged?
The National Insurance Scheme is also on the agenda to be improved. Workers in the tourism industry will benefit from a tourism workers' pension scheme, which has been long overdue. They will also increase PATH benefits. There are also plans to increase the benefits offered to persons with disabilities. The Government plans to target poverty reduction through integrated community development projects and the Community Renewal Programme. These will run congruent with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund's mandate to increase the establishment of community involvement and social enterprises across the island.
The aim is to target long-run economic development through the provision of affordable education and housing and embark on a huge housing reform. The Government will therefore increase the income band that has access to the National Housing Trust loans at a rate of 0 per cent from $7,500 per week to $12,000 per week, among other benefits.
The prime minister's aim is to reorient people's perception of the State from that of being an oppressive, antagonistic, class-segregated Babylon to their protector and enabler - their Zion.