No joking on growth
Holness says ministers in his Gov’t will face 30-month targets testTuesday, January 19, 2016
ANDREW Holness yesterday reiterated his party’s commitment to seeing the Jamaican economy grow and said that a Government led by him would require all his ministers working to meet performance targets for which they will be held accountable over a 30-month period.
He also vowed that, as part of a broader thrust to drive economic growth, a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Administration would reinstate the Junior Stock Exchange tax incentives that are about to be removed by the present Government.
"Let me tell you this right up front, one of the first actions that I will take as the next prime minister of Jamaica is to restore all the incentives and facilitations to entrepreneurial investors through the Junior Exchange, which have been taken away by the current Government," Holness said in his address to the Jamaica Stock Exchange Conference.
"I commit to you today that there will be no equivocal discussions, no committees set up to restudy if the incentive should be restored, no long talking — we will just do it!" he added.
Since 2009, the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) Junior Market has provided a 10-year tax benefit structure — five years free of corporate income tax followed by five years of half tax — for listed companies, while acting as a major incentive for companies to go public.
The benefit structure also included an exemption from tax on dividends or other distributions by the Junior Market and relief from transfer tax and stamp duty on transfers of shares in JSE Junior Market companies.
However, in 2013 the Government announced that it would remove the tax incentive, effective March 2016, triggering calls for a rethink of the decision.
Arguing that that the pathway to growth and job creation runs through the JSE, Holness said that the Junior Market’s success is a perfect example of how stock markets support both growth and job creation.
"Since its establishment in 2009 under a Jamaica Labour Party Administration, billions of dollars of equity capital have been channelled to entrepreneurs from investors. Companies such as Access Financial Services, Derrimon Trading, Blue Power Group, Lasco Manufacturing, Jamaica Teas, Dolphin Cove, and Knutsford Express have all expanded production and employment from the equity financing received through the specially created pathway of the Junior Stock Market," Holness told the conference.
He said, too, that his party was committed to bringing entrepreneurship and efficiency to State-owned enterprises through listing on the stock exchange, and, as such, would undertake a missioning exercise of all ministries, State enterprises and agencies.
"We will start with the executive structure of government. Every minister in my Government will be given a consequential two-and-a half-year-job letter, setting out their key performance targets, as drawn from our manifesto towards economic growth and job creation, for which they will be held to account," Holness said.
"Additionally, immediately upon appointment they will be given their targets of low-hanging, easily attainable changes they must make within the first 90 days of our new Government. This will set the cascading example throughout government."
He said his party has already started the exercise of ensuring that every ministry of government is aligned and fit for the purpose of supporting the growth and job creation mission.
"To this end, we will create a Ministry of Economic Growth and Employment. It will incorporate elements of existing ministries such as industry and commerce, labour, and finance and planning. To be clear, it is not our intention to expand government, rather it is our intention to create a more aligned, agile, entrepreneurial, robust, service, and task-oriented government," he said.
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