Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ 2023/2024 budget presentation in Parliament on Thursday has been met with mixed reactions, predictably along party lines, with members of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party showing full support of the projects announced, and the Opposition raising questions of whether the presentation is a prelude to an election.
Juliet Holness, the Member of Parliament of St Andrew East Rural and wife of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, described the presentation as “awesome”, adding that it made clear certain statements that were “absolute lies”.
“The presentation was awesome and I really like when efforts are made to correct mis-statements, misinformation and absolute lies. So for Jamaicans to have a greater appreciation that fiscal space means having the ability with less and less debt to pay, and we have more money to invest in us as Jamaican people, in our education, in our health, in our security forces,” Holness said.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr also enjoyed the presentation, stating that the prime minister showed understanding of Jamaicans, considering the projects he plans to implement.
“What he displayed is a level of understanding of the people of Jamaica and the needs of Jamaicans and he has laid out a comprehensive and substantive set of projects that in my view represent a government that’s focused on moving from vision to reality,” Charles Jr said.
Across the aisle, members of the People’s National Party, were not as impressed about the presentation, though some praise was given for the plan to raise the minimum wage by 44 per cent.
READ: 44% hike in minimum wage
“I wonder if it’s an election budget. It is geared to be a giveaway budget and so I guess we need to be gearing up for an election. Many people are going to have a difficulty especially with those civil servants who really and truly have to be paying helpers and paying caregivers to help them with their children, they did not receive anything substantial. $75 more a day and they are going to be paying increased minimum wage. I am happy for the minimum wage earners but I can see where the imbalance and inequity in the society will continue,” Opposition Spokesperson on Local Government, Community Development and Sports, Natalie Garvey said.
As for Dr Angela Brown Burke, PNP Spokesperson on Labour and Social Security, she had this to say: “There were some good things in it but I am kind of tired of leaders like the prime minister taking Jamaicans for idiots and believing that they don’t understand exactly what is happening.”