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Holness says NHT drawdown for debt repayment, not to support 1.5 tax plan

Jamaica Gleaner / Prime Minister Andrew Holness is seeking to clarify that the $11.4 billion to be taken from the National Housing Trust will be used to pay down on Jamaica’s debt.

At the same time, Holness has defended the NHT drawdown despite denouncing it while his Jamaica Labour Party was in opposition.

At a press conference on March 13, Finance Minister Audley Shaw, responding to a question from  The Gleaner,  said the NHT withdrawal was important to the income tax relief promise that helped the Labour party win the 2016 general election.

“We couldn’t cease to take the draw down from the NHT this year in line with second phase of the personal income tax giveback,” Shaw said. 

“It is firmly our intention to phase that out but we could not do everything one time.” 

At a press conference today, Holness said the NHT money is to be used to help pay down on Jamaica’s debt.

“The NHT resources were never used to support the tax package for the replacement of personal income tax,” Holness insisted. 

Meanwhile, Holness this morning spent a long time trying to explain why his administration has moved to take funds from the NHT although the Jamaica Labour Party had denounced it while in opposition.

“I don’t mind if you win a political battle to say ‘well, he broke his promise’ … The battle I want to win is that project Jamaica is still viable, Holness said.

“If you want to win a political battle to say, ‘well, I’ve got him’, go ahead, you’ve got me, but project Jamaica is still viable.”

  Prime Minister, Andrew Holness

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