New Jamaica prime minister sworn in, vowing to reverse austerity

March 4, 2016 05:03

Jamaica's new prime minister, Andrew Holness, was sworn in on Thursday after a narrow general election win, vowing to increase growth and cut taxes in a reversal of the previous government's austerity program.

Holness has been criticized for promising to trim taxes even as Jamaica struggles with a debt-to-GDP ratio of about 125, but he argued economic growth would plug the gap.

"The priority of this government is to grow the economy and create meaningful jobs," Holness said in his inauguration speech in Kingston. "In so doing, we will more rapidly and sustainably reduce debt."

"Our government will ease your tax burden, but you must invest and spend wisely," he added, encouraging Jamaicans to spend on the local economy to create jobs in manufacturing, housing and agriculture.

Holness' Jamaican Labor Party replaced the People's National Party after winning 32 of 63 parliamentary seats in last week's election, with some constituencies decided by just a handful of votes.

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