Andrew’s promises<br /> <br />  

Andrew’s promises

 

Big income tax break, council of investment ambassadors among initiatives in 10-point election pledge

Thursday, February 04, 2016

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OPPOSITION Leader Andrew Holness last night said a government led by him would create a special council of investment ambassadors who would be tasked with seeking out investors worldwide and bringing them to Jamaica.


He also promised that the island’s foreign missions would engage in economic diplomacy as their main objective, and reiterated his party’s commitment to tax reform in order to help stimulate growth.


Holness was outlining the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP’s) broad policy proposals in a pre-election national broadcast, listing what he said were just "10 of the many innovative and exciting things" the JLP would do "to place Jamaica on the path to economic growth and job creation".


"Jamaica must improve its international profile as an investment destination and not merely as an emerging market to lend money," Holness said in explaining his party’s rationale for the council of investment ambassadors. "We will complete the work we started to develop Jamaica as an international business centre."


In relation to Jamaica’s embassies and high commissions engaging in economic diplomacy, the opposition leader said: "Our foreign policy must support our economic priorities."


On the matter of tax reform, Holness said a JLP Government would again reduce transfer taxes, stamp duties, and estate taxes.


"To help our economy grow and help you take care of your families, we will get rid of personal income tax for everyone who earns a gross salary of $1.5m or less. So nurses, policemen and women, teachers, public sector workers, and young people starting out, the Jamaica Labour Party will give you a break, because we know you need one," he said.


The other initiatives on Holness’s list were:


• establishing a Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation to ensure that investments are rapidly facilitated to avoid government obstacles;


• restoring 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;


• divestment of loss-making government entities and listing several State-owned enterprises such as the UDC and Factories Corporation on the Jamaica Stock Exchange;


• strategic capital investments in water in order to reduce the impact of drought on the economy, and boost agriculture and housing construction;


• reforming the National Housing Trust, Housing Agency and the Mortgage Bank to expand affordable housing construction, reduce interest rates on mortgages and create a special intergenerational 50-to 60-year mortgage that will make home ownership and payments easier; and


• the redevelopment of the Kingston waterfront and market district as part of a broader plan to revitalise and rebuild town centres.


"We cannot continue to deprive and tax ourselves into poverty," Holness said. "Instead, we must grow into prosperity. Prosperity means a bubbling economy creating jobs, and giving you the power and independence in your hands to improve your life."


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