Sunday 18 August, 2019

Government about spreading wealth, not welfare, says Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is promising that the nation will be much better off and even rich in the future, with his Government's policies being the catalyst to drive the expected economic boom.

According to Holness, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government which he leads has implemented some policies geared at putting wealth in the hands of ordinary Jamaicans, which he said will allow the wealth network of the island to grow.

Speaking at the launch of Wigton Wind Farm’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel last week, the prime minister said the Government wants to change the mind set of Jamaicans in relation to wealth, which many believe they will never achieve.

Holness said a part of the Government's plan to achieve this will be allowing ordinary Jamaicans to be shareholders in the various Government entities that will be divested in the upcoming years.

He said, "how we have structured the transaction, you would have to say that this is the best way of giving back to the people of the country. This is the best way of achieving the goal, of socialisation of wealth.

"There is a confusion operating in the minds of some individuals, that placing wealth on our stock markets is a way of making the rich richer. It can be, no doubt. But in a democratic society, in a properly regulated market, it is the best way of socialising wealth. To put it in another sense, it is better than socialism," he said.

According to Holness, the Government will achieve the goal of putting wealth in the hands of many Jamaicans by the policy of using the bottom-up method when these entities are being divested.

The method will be that small entities will be given preferential treatment during the IPO exchange, as against the ‘first come, first served’ approach. This means that even if a small entity is last to register, they will be given the share over the medium-sized company. The medium-sized entity will also have preference over the larger businesses.

Holness argued that the method will allow Jamaica to be economically independent, which in turn will result in political independence as well.

He said, "our economic strategy is economic independence. For that we mean the ability of the country, and indeed the citizens, to make decisions in its own economic interest without having to consider what it owes or what it will lose, if it acts or does not act in a particular way.

"Presently, we genuinely cannot say that we are a fully economically independent country. And there are those again who confuse two things. One is our political independence, and the other is our economic independence. But the truth is that your political independence is really hinged on your economic independence.

"So what we are about - yes ultimately - is to secure our political independence, and the best way to do that is by securing our economic independence, and to do that we must push wealth into the hands of the people. So our strategy is not poverty alleviation. Our strategy is not welfare. Our strategy is wealth creation," he said.

He said his Government is seeking to change the thinking of ordinary Jamaicans that wealth creation is synonymous with exploitation.

He said, "in the minds of many Jamaicans, there is a fear almost that wealth creation is synonymous with exploitation. Again we have to get that out of our psychic, out of our way of thinking.

"Jamaica is destined to be a rich country, and we must never be afraid of wealth. We mustn't be afraid of making a profit. Profit is a good thing. Again we must change our thinking, because historically, we have seen the private sector as an elite group of rapacious capitalists, just waiting to gobble up and exploit the little man.

"It is about time that we have a transformation in thinking, where even the little man can feel that he too can make a profit. That he too is a part of the private sector that creates profit," Holness said.

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