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Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaks after being sworn into office, Kingston, Jamaica, March 3, 2016 (AP photo by Collin Reid).

Jamaica’s Labour Party Promised ‘Prosperity for All.’ Can It Deliver?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A year ago, Jamaican voters, tired of years of severe austerity measures, unexpectedly ushered in a new government. The left-leaning People’s National Party (PNP), which had held power for much of the past 25 years, was widely predicted to win. Instead, the conservative Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) won by a slim margin, buoyed by a campaign platform of “prosperity for all,” in part through a promised tax break for a large swath of lower-income workers.

The biggest concern at the time was that the JLP would derail Jamaica’s hard-won gains in repaying debts to the International Monetary Fund for short-term political advantage. Critics of the JLP’s platform during the election were doubtful that the party could fulfill its campaign promise of tax breaks and still balance the budget. But a year on, the JLP has met the IMF’s benchmarks, and the island’s debt burden has fallen from 130 percent of GDP a year ago to around 115 percent today. Unemployment has also dipped slightly, coming in at 12.9 percent in the final quarter of 2016, down 0.4 percent from a year earlier. Ratings agencies have given the country a “stable” outlook. ...

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