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The Most Honorable Andrew Michael Holness – Jamaica’s Ninth and Current Prime Minister

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The Most Honorable Andrew Michael Holness, ON, M.P.: First served from October 23, 2011 to December 28, 2011, and March 3, 2016, to present

Andrew Holness took office as Jamaica’s ninth prime minister on October 23, 2011, following his endorsement as leader of the JLP. He succeeded Bruce Golding. Holness is distinguished for being Jamaica’s youngest prime minister and the only one born after the nation gained independence in 1962.

Mr. Holness was born on July 22, 1972, in Spanish Town, St. Catherine. After graduating from the UWI, he served as executive director of the Voluntary Organization for the Upliftment of Children (VOUCH) from 1994 to 1996. He later joined the Premium Group of Companies as a special assistant to former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.

In 1997 he was elected MP for West Central St. Andrew. From 1999 to 2002, he served as opposition spokesperson on land and development, housing from 2002 to 2005, and education from 2005 to 2007. Upon the JLP’s victory in 2007, he was appointed minister of education.

Upon Bruce Golding’s resignation in October 2011, JLP leaders coalesced around Holness and selected him as the party’s new leader with a show of consensus. He was sworn in as the nation’s new prime minister on October 23, 2011.

Shortly after assuming the position of prime minister, to obtain his own mandate from Jamaican voters, Holness called general elections on December 29, 2011. The JLP was defeated, swiftly ending Holness’ tenure as prime minister.

According to the JIS, Holness described himself as a libertarian on the social side, a fiscal conservative on the economic side, and one committed to promoting and protecting human rights. He believes the political arena should “give room to all people to participate, provided that they meet certain standards.” As an economic conservative, he has committed to prudence in government spending, fiscal discipline, and debt management. On the social side, he believes education must be one of the most critical ingredients of national development.

Threatened to be left in a political wilderness, Holness found salvation in his bold 2016 political platform to liberate Jamaicans at the lower income levels from paying income tax. Although the governing PNP criticized the policy as infeasible, most voters believed in it and narrowly reelected Holness and the JLP to office in 2016.

Holness immediately led his new administration to build on the positive financial foundation left by the outgoing PNP administration leading the Jamaican economy to be described as one of the strongest in the Caribbean region and the Jamaican stock market one of the best in the world. During his second tenure as prime minister, he successfully marketed Jamaica to foreign investors, especially in the tourism sector.

In 2020, Jamaicans and the Jamaican economy were severely affected by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced to lock down the country to restrict the spread of the pandemic, the economy suffered a significant loss of revenue, particularly in two of the most substantial income earning streams, tourism and financial remittances from the diaspora.

On the other hand, Holness and his administration received international commendation for the sound implementation and management of measures that significantly restricted the coronavirus spread in Jamaica.

On September 3, 2020, Holness secured his third stint as prime minister of Jamaica when he led the JLP to a 49 to 14 victory over the PNP.  He was sworn in on September 7th.

During a visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Jamaica in March 2022, Prime Minister Holness gave the most unambiguous indication that Jamaica was removing the Queen as head of state.   He told the royal couple that Jamaica was “moving on, and we intend to attain in short order our development goals and fulfill our true ambitions as an independent, developed, prosperous country.”

On May 26, 2021, Prime Minister Andrew Holness was appointed to the queen’s privy council.  Mr. Holness is married to Juliet, and the couple has two sons.

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