STATEMENT BY MOST HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER CONCERNING THE SITUATION IN IRAQ TUESDAY, MARCH 18, 2003
By now we are all aware of the ultimatum given by the United States to the Government of Iraq and the rapidly unfolding situation which has effectively brought us to the brink of war.
For sometime now, we have been closely following the developments in the international arena concerning the situation in Iraq. Security Council Resolution 1441 of November 8, 2002, the latest in a series of resolutions on the matter, essentially ordered the resumption of UN inspections of Iraqi chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programme, and mandated compliance by Iraq, failing which it would be deemed to be in breach of obligations, resulting in “serious consequences.”
Like many other Member States of the United Nations, Jamaica welcomed and was heartened by the return of the weapons inspectors and even more so by the positive indications, albeit incremental, that the disarmament process in Iraq would truly begin. Our commitment to global disarmament has remained firm.
There were many, even within the Security Council, who were of the view that the disarmament was finally taking place and that every effort should be made by all countries to facilitate the process. The recent months of intense negotiation and diplomatic efforts, fuelled by the perception on the part of some other states of a lack of adequate and convincing compliance by Iraq, were aimed at the adoption of a resolution authorizing further action by the international community.
It is regrettable that in the face of serious dissensions within the Security Council, those efforts did not bear fruit.
I want to make it abundantly clear that Jamaica has been unwavering in its support for a multilateral approach to a resolution of the situation regarding Iraq. As we have done in the case of terrorism, we have underscored the role ascribed to the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security and in that context, in addressing the concerns over the possession and use of weapons of mass destruction. Convinced that this was not an issue for any State acting alone, but for the international community, Jamaica, and its sister CARICOM States, as well as members of the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed that any unilateral action taken outside of a UN Security Council mandate even with the support of a number of Member States, would undermine the integrity of the United Nations and weaken the multilateral approach to peace and security.
We have always supported the demand that Iraq comply fully with its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions.
In keeping with our commitment to the fundamental principles of the non-use of force and respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and security of all Member States, we have supported the efforts aimed at peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the situation.
Given the important progress which the UN Inspectors confirmed their most recent report to Security Council, we are not convinced that all diplomatic means to avert war have been exhausted or that the recourse to the use of military force at this moment is the only way to achieve our final goal.
Poised as we are at the threshold of war, I am addressing this Honourable House and the nation in the face of the inevitable consequences to our nation, our region, on the entire global community.
a. There are naturally immediate concerns over the security of our nationals who are in the Middle East, those of us at home, as well as nationals in other communities at risk.
b. We are also concerned at the impact in the short, medium and long term on the supply and cost of food, energy and other essential inputs for the functioning of our productive sector and daily consumer activities.
c. Naturally, we are following closely the possible fall out for the travel and tourism industries and the impact on other vital sectors such as agriculture.
d. We are acutely aware that in the face of increasing political instability and economic decline worldwide, and the impoverishment of many developing countries in an adverse trading environment, our goals and plans for economic and social development would be set back over the medium to long term.
e. The heightened sense of alert, tension and uncertainty that accompanies war would also erode confidence in the economy and wipe out anticipated gains from any investment.
We are further clearly aware that the extent, nature and impact of war could be compounded by its duration and severity.
I wish to assure you that the Government is fully seized with the issues and arising out of a meeting of the Cabinet held yesterday, we have decided to take a number of actions, even as we continue to monitor the developments in the situation:
1. A travel advisory has been issued to Jamaican national in the Middle East region. Our missions overseas, including honorary consuls in the region have been put on alert to provide support to our communities.
We are encouraging you at home to bring to the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade information regarding those who you know to be in the area.
2. Measures to enhance the security and integrity of our country, including at all ports of entry, will be enhanced.
3. Priority attention will be focused on ensuring uninterrupted supplies of food and energy
4. With immediate effect, a Working Group has been established to monitor developments, assess their impact and make proposals to minimize or mitigate them. It will comprise the following departments/entities:
Office of the Prime minister
Ministry of Foreign affairs and foreign Trade
Ministry of Tourism and Industry
Ministry of National Security
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Commerce, Science and Technology
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Development
Jamaica Information Service
Planning Institute of Jamaica
Bank of Jamaica
It will be chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
5. Ministers have been alerted to brief their portfolio sectors and will be summoned to meet as the situation requires.
6. With our sister countries in the Caribbean region, we will keep abreast of the impact at regional and other levels.
I call on all of us to be alert to developments in the near term, to take steps necessary to preserve and conserve supplied of food and oil, and to support the collective efforts to address a situation over which we have so little control. Our concerns are shared by the majority of persons around the globe as the consequences will extend far beyond the immediate region. It is reared that a disproportionate burden will be borne by small developing states lie ours in the Caribbean, which are ill-prepared to cope with the impact of global recession.
This is a time when the entire country must be united around the efforts aimed at ensuring the least possible fallout as a result of what will be a traumatic period ahead. All Jamaicans must be alert for we know not from whence acts of terror will come.
PM SPEAKS ON GOVERNANCE & URGENCY OF ECONOMIC ACTION AT RETREAT
Prime Minister PJ Patterson on Saturday used the opening session of day two of the economic retreat underway in Montego Bay to stress his commitment to good governance and highlighted the urgency of required action on the part of the Government and the private sector to get expanded economic activity and job creation going.
The Prime Minister reiterated the Government’s interest and commitment to stamp out corruption. Mr. Patterson pointed out that this should not confined to the political directorate and encompassed all levels in the public service including those who serve at administrative levels and particularly in areas of special sensitivity.
Making the point that the public and private sector must work to fight corruption, he noted: “While there is a lot of focus and properly so, on corruption in the public sector, there is also vast levels of corruption in private business enterprises and in their relationships with each other as well as with the public sector.”
Turning to the imperative for urgent action to expand the economy and create jobs, Prime Minister Patterson said he was committed to ensuring that the time he had remaining as Head of Government was devoted to getting concrete things done to stimulate economic growth and significant improvements in living standards.
He said the Government had indicated in specific terms those projects it would be pursuing including massive highway construction, housing development, water supply expansion among other infrastructure works. “We are putting on the table what we are doing. We want to hear from the people in the private sector what they are going to do,” said Mr. Patterson.
The Prime Minister pointed to opportunities for local building industry players to form joint venture partnerships to bid for major construction projects that now go to international firms with the capacity and ability to benefit from economies of scale. He noted that with Highway 2000 projected to open opportunities for industrial parks and business activities related to nature and culture, the Government was ready to assist private sector interests with serious business proposals outlining how the Government could facilitate such ventures.
The Prime Minister disclosed too that the Government was anxious to see greater private sector initiative in the agriculture sector not just on small and medium scales but also in terms of large-scale enterprises. Here, he said, the Government stood ready to make land available to spur economic activity. He pointed to non-traditional farming as holding significant potential. Even traditional crops such as banana and sugar he pointed out, had potential but required new arrangements to ensure greater productivity and more value added.
Prime Minister Patterson again called for the reduction of bank lending rates in keeping with the Government having fulfilled calls from the private sector for cash reserves to be lowered. “We need to have competitive interest rates,” he said noting that the Government accepted that one of the factors impeding this was the high level of public borrowing.
Mr. Patterson noted that proposals to address the issue have been put forward by both the Government and the Private and will be taken on board by the Administration.
The Prime Minister wants banks to look at creative ways of facilitating viable productive activities. “We still have not yet begun to appreciate in a knowledge-based society what is the value of a creative idea and how it can be used as part of security and collateral,” Mr. Patterson noted.
Meanwhile, Minister of Development and Co-chairman of the retreat, Dr. Paul Robertson said the Government has been making significant headway in improving the investment climate in Jamaica. He noted that the World Investment Report 2002 showed Jamaica doing well in a global situation where Foreign Direct Investment flows is declining.
The Ministry of Development, he said, has created a focal point for clearing hurdles and expediting investment processes. There has also been the modernisation, under the Public Sector Modernisation programme, of a number of business and trade facilitation agencies. These include the Registrar of Companies, the National Land Agency, the National Environment and Planning Agency, the Customs Department, the National Works Agency and Jampro. Improvements to legislation, he pointed out, have also taken place.
The Minister told private sector representatives on Saturday that there was a new initiative to ensure ‘Joined up Government’ involving the intensification of efforts to ensure that government agencies operate based on the same aims and objectives.
This effort has already given rise, Dr. Robertson said, to Memoranda of Understanding being between the Ministries of Health and Agriculture as well as the Ministry of Commerce, Science & Technology and the Customs Department.
He added that the Government is now reviewing the incentives regime to ensure consistency and objectivity while making incentives performance based, measurable and compliant with the rules of the World Trade Organisation and the impending Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement. A Government of Jamaica help desk is also being set up to provide comprehensive information for people doing business with the Government.
Other areas of significant advance highlighted by the Development Minister includes 8 day reduction in waiting time at the Office of Registrar of Companies while and 85% of all subdivision and planning applications being approved within the 90 day deadline. The National land agency has also reduced the time for mapping survey plans from 26 to 10 weeks and has surpassed its annual target of 6,000 new titles by over 50% while the Customs Department is still recruiting and training staff as part of its modernisation process.
Dr. Robertson said that while the Government was committed to even greater efforts to encourage investments, there was a need for the private sector too, to make some fundamental changes to modernise its operations and business processes to enhance competitiveness. He said that while a number of firms were making an effort in this regard, others had some way to go in giving priority to research and development and science and technology application.
GOVERNMENT AND UNIONS MEET TO SETTLE PROBLEMS AT JAMALCO PROJECT
Representatives of the Government led by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Horace Dalley and the Minister of Development Dr. Paul Robertson met on Saturday (March 8) with senior officers of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union and the National Workers Union to discuss industrial relations problems that have arisen at JAMALCO and resulted in the stoppage of work at the company’s mud lake disposal facility in Clarendon.
During the meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay the issues were fully ventilated following which a number of initiatives were agreed. It is hoped that these initiatives will result in the resumption of work on the mud disposal system early in the coming week.
The union officers pledged to work to ensure stability at the facility and to support the expansion programme which is vital to the national effort to achieve economic growth and job creation.
PRIME MINISTER SAYS SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY TO PLAY KEY ROLE IN JOB CREATION, ECONOMIC GROWTH
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson is leading an initiative to have science and technology (S&T) development and application play a greater role in economic expansion, the stimulation of growth and the creation of employment. Mr. Patterson told private sector leaders on the second day of their joint retreat with the Government in Montego Bay on Saturday that the National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST), which he chairs, needs to be empowered to act as the catalyst for innovation-based business expansion in Jamaica. “The solution resides in how a partnership can be established between the NCST and by extension the entire Science and Technology community, and the private sector to build a sound knowledge base which can serve both productive and social purposes on which our economy can be inexorably founded,” Mr. Patterson said while introducing the discussion on science and technology.
Declaring that science and technology was a strategic resource underpinning economic growth, the Prime Minister called for greater private sector funding for the National Foundation for the Development of Science and Technology, which was established to source and provide financing in support for S&T activities.
Funding is required to develop science and technology throughout the country, Mr. Patterson said, adding that emphasis should be placed on developing projects that deliver value-added products utilising the intrinsic human qualities and culture of our people. The focus he noted, should be related to food, agricultural products, music and information technology highlighting innovation. He added: “The National Commission on Science and Technology offers a credible way to build a purposeful S&T infrastructure, which will serve all Jamaica, in both local economic endeavours, as well as in encouraging foreign investments.”
Pointing out that the success of many developed and newly industrialised economies has been due to science and technology, Mr. Patterson issued a call for dialogue between the S&T community and the private sector to identify existing technologies, services and the type and pattern of technologies required. “As we pursue socio-economic development in an environment encompassing a knowledge based society, science and technology is critical in a world of globalisation, high levels of competition, reduced market protection and social problems,” the Prime Minister said.
Meanwhile, building on the theme of producing high quality products for niche markets, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Science and Technology, Dr. Arnaldo Ventura said an all out effort must be made to identify such business opportunities, locate innovative talent, and find creative ways to develop new jobs and production enterprises. “Jamaica has to build a more knowledge and service oriented economy in order to compete globally,” Dr. Ventura told a working lunch session of the retreat Saturday.
The answer to many of the country’s socio-economic problems, he said, was to be found in innovation as a fundamental determinant of competition. Proactive business approaches which anticipate consumer demands, invest in product development and which are based on forward market positions, Dr. Ventura noted, could significantly expand the economic activity, create jobs and deliver growth.
PRIME MINISTER EXPRESSES SHOCK, REGRET AT DEATH OF VICTOR ROBINSON
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has expressed shock and regret at the death of Montego Bay Attorney and member of the Board of the National Housing Trust (NHT), Mr. Victor Robinson. He recalls Mr. Robinson as a leading advocate who practised at the Cornwall Bar. “We are all saddened to learn of his untimely death,” the Prime Minister said.
He also described Mr. Robinson as a social advocate who had a deep passion for the development of western Jamaica and the nation in general. “It was in recognition of his active role in the community and his strident advocacy for the development of western Jamaica that Mr. Robinson was appointed as the regional representative on the Board of the NHT,” the Prime Minister noted.
He added: “At the time of his death, Mr. Robinson was attending a Retreat of the NHT in Ocho Rios, where he was integrally involved in a review of the agency’s work and the formulation of plans for the expansion of housing provision for the people.”
On behalf of the Government the Prime Minister expressed appreciation for Mr. Robinson’s contribution to regional and national development. Prime Minister Patterson has expressed condolences to Mr. Robinson’s family including his mother and children, other relatives and friends.
PUBLIC SECTOR EMPLOYEES/SECURITY PERSONNEL TO DECLARE ASSETS, INCOME AND LIABILITIES
Public sector employees who fall outside the Parliamentary (Integrity of Members) Act and whose total emoluments are $2 Million per annum or more, as well as members of the security forces, will as of this year be required to declare their assets, liabilities and income to the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption. This was disclosed on Tuesday (Mar. 11), at the launch of the Commission at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson who delivered the keynote address at Tuesday’s launch, said the Commission was another tool in an already expansive system of safeguarding national integrity. He noted that the economic consequences of corruption were enormous, and included the fact that taxpayers and consumers were faced with higher costs for goods and services as bribery, extortion, fraud and embezzlement pushed up the cost of goods and services.
The Prime Minister said also that the requirement that members of the security forces should make declarations to the Commission was important, as their integrity was central to the effectiveness of any anti-corruption measure.
He stressed that the Commission was not being established in order to gain international acclaim, but rather that the country was “doing it for ourselves so that we can have an honest society,” Mr. Patterson said.
Prime Minister Patterson said the Commission required the full support of the political directorate and the public to survive, as well as adequate resources for it to undertake its functions. He said that as Prime Minister, he would ensure that the political will was not only expressed, but that tangible support was also in place.
Mr. Patterson said the Commission should be seen as a direct invitation to all Jamaicans who was aware of any act of corruption, to speak up, stand up and help the nation stamp out corruption.
In addition to receiving declarations from public sector employees, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption has been granted the power to conduct investigations into acts of corruption on its own initiative, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that corruption has occurred. The Commission may also request any public servant or category of public servants to make submissions either by written notification or by a notice published in the gazette.
The Commission is chaired by Retired Supreme Court Senior Puisne Judge, Mr. Chester Orr and has as its members, Mr. Adrian Strachan, Auditor General; Mrs. Rosemarie Vernon, Principal of the Alpha Primary School and former president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association; Mr. William Chin See, Chairman of Caymanas Track Limited and Rev. Canon Weeville Gordon, Custos of Kingston.
GOVT, PRIVATE SECTOR IN NEW PUSH FOR JOBS & GROWTH
The Government will be looking primarily to developments in the tourism,
construction, agriculture and service sectors to accelerate the provision
of jobs and spur sustainable levels of economic growth. This was disclosed
by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson as he addressed the opening session of a three-day retreat with private sector leaders at the Ritz Carlton hotel in
Montego Bay this morning (Friday, March 7).
Noting that the tourism industry was beginning to bounce back, the Prime Minister pointed out that growth in this sector would be aided by the room and infrastructure capacity that has been built up over the years as well as the high standard of the tourism product in Jamaica. He added that tourism’s significant potential also stemmed from the linkages with other sectors such as agriculture.
On agriculture, Prime Minister Patterson said the prospects of job creation and growth could not be overlooked. He highlighted the fact that the sector holds great economic potential while being an area of significant social concern. While, “there has been a tendency for many countries as they move into new areas, to turn their back on agriculture, we do not intend to do so in Jamaica,” he said, stressing however, that crucial areas of the agriculture sector such as the sugar industry, had to undergo major restructuring.
Prime Minister Patterson made it clear to the business leaders that in the quest for the much needed employment creation, the government by itself, could not directly provide the number of jobs required to reduce unemployment to acceptable levels. “To do so it (the Government) would have to add to the size of the bureaucracy at greater public cost or engage in the provision of makeshift jobs and I think everybody feels that we should be going in the opposite direction certainly in reducing the size of the bureaucracy and refraining from engaging in makeshift job provision,” Mr. Patterson said.
He added that while the Government had the primary responsibility for creating the enabling environment and providing the required infrastructure, in a market economy, the private sector had to be the main engine of economic growth and the principal source of investment. Added the Prime Minister: “This places on the private sector a great responsibility which it cannot shirk in discharging its role to provide jobs within the enabling environment.”
Special emphasis, Prime Minister Patterson said, will have to be placed on increasing productivity through the application of science and technology, while attention also has to be given to economically viable service provision in areas such as health.
In outlining the challenges facing the country as the Government pushed ahead in the quest for economic growth and jobs, the Prime Minister said the international environment held many uncertainties even as oil prices continue to impact negatively on the local economy.
Meanwhile, in her opening statement to the retreat, President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Mrs. Beverly Lopez said the private sector was interested in a constructive conversation with the Government to move the country forward. She highlighted the need for a greater push to raise education levels as well as advance health care delivery to maximise the human resource potential within the nation.
She added that the PSOJ has signaled its support for the Government’s Urban renewal programme and would be putting forward its own suggestions on the matter of widening tax collection.
International firm, Price WaterHouse Coopers are facilitators for the three-day retreat which ends on Sunday.
JOINT STATEMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR ON THE OUTCOME OF THEIR RETREAT HELD AT THE RITZ CARLTON ROSEHALL HOTEL, MONTEGO BAY, MARCH 7-9, 2003
The Government and the Private Sector confirmed that their three day retreat ended with a number of positive agreements as to areas which would lead to job creation, investment and growth. Of significance was the agreement by the Prime Minister to include private sector representation on the Development Council, so as to ensure a direct involvement in the development planning process.
The discussions covered a number of areas that spanned various sectors and would therefore require additional dialogue with other interest groups including labour and civil society. An action plan was built around two primary conditions. The first continues to be the issue of the reduction of crime, violence and praedial larceny as one of major importance in stimulating expansion in the local economy and by extension increasing jobs. The Minister of National Security, Dr. Hon. Peter Phillips, outlined to the meeting a number of initiatives aimed at curbing the incidence of crime in the short term. The Private Sector representatives were supportive of these plans and committed their ongoing support in the fight against crime. Consideration was given to the issue of corruption and the Government and the private sector agreed on the need to continue efforts to have greater levels of integrity and accountability in the public and private sectors.
The second primary condition is the need to reduce the cost of capital and it was accepted that further mechanisms needed to be developed to lower interest rates in order to facilitate the expansion of existing projects and stimulate real sector investments.
Specific areas identified are Tourism, Information Technology, Manufacturing and Construction. In the area of Tourism special focus was placed on Sports and Entertainment, Eco-Tourism and Convention Tourism. The private sector again raised the issue of Casino gambling and it was agreed that the economic benefits and social implications should be the subject of a further study.
Discussions on Information Technology included the possibility of producing phone cards and also the refurbishing of cellular phones for the export market.
In the area of construction, emphasis was placed on Highway 2000 whereby lands would be opened up to facilitate industrial parks, tourism products, new towns and linkages for distribution.
To engender growth in today’s modern global environment, the need for sustainable science and technology policy was agreed by all.
Agriculture was highlighted specifically in the area of value added products and processing and the development of orchard crops.
Significant focus was also placed on the current fiscal imperatives and agreement was achieved on the following:
- containment of debt as a percentage of GDP
- the need for lower interest rates
- elimination of the deficit over three years
Other issues discussed included the need for a wage containment policy and a request for the Government to revisit the 80% parity for the civil service.
In addition, it was agreed in principle to broaden the tax net and the need for additional taxation considering the current challenges. The Energy Conservation Policy was also identified for review and public awareness.
It was also widely agreed that efforts must be made to embrace the wider Jamaican Diaspora to generate additional partnerships in business development.
It was agreed to have quarterly meetings between both parties to monitor progress and implementation of the key initiatives discussed.
The Prime Minister stressed the need to proceed with urgency and decisiveness as demanded by the national interest.
OPENING OF PARLIAMENT SET FOR APRIL 3
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has advised the Governor General His Excellency Sir Howard Cooke that the current session of Parliament be prorogued on Saturday, March 29.
The ceremonial opening of Parliament for the new parliamentary year will be on Thursday, April 3. On that day, the Throne Speech will be delivered by the Governor General and the Estimates of Expenditure for the new financial year 2003-2004 will be tabled in the House.
GOVERNMENT & PRIVATE SECTOR HOLD WEEKEND RETREAT ON JOB CREATION, ECONOMIC GROWTH
As the Government and the private sector embark on a new phase of collaboration and joint problem solving in the interest of advancing job creation, economic growth and national development, the Government led by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson will hold a three-day retreat with private sector leaders in Montego Bay starting Friday, March 7.
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson said in a statement on Thursday that the workshop/retreat which ends on Sunday at the Ritz Carlton Rose Hall hotel is an important event in the ongoing dialogue between the Government and the private sector. The Prime Minister said, "Our adherence to the market economy model reserves a special place for the private sector as the engine of economic growth. But we believe that the private sector and the Government must work together to ensure that the growth and development we both seek take place."
Private sector leaders are also looking forward to the discussions on the economy.
“The private sector, as has been its tradition, looks forward to collaborating with the Government on issues of national importance. We therefore come to the table willing to share ideas and thoughts on these issues and hope that practical solutions will be found to engender the growth that we need so badly,” said, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) President, Mrs. Beverly Lopez.
The retreat will be addressed on Friday by Prime Minister Patterson, Mrs. Lopez the PSOJ President and Minister of Development, Dr. Paul Robertson. On the opening day too, Minister of Finance and Planning Dr. Omar Davies will present a fiscal review highlighting perspectives and imperatives of the current economic situation, while National Security Minister Dr. Peter Phillips will present a report on the national anti-crime initiative.
Saturday's discussion will focus on strategies for promoting investment, job creation and growth with presentations by the Minister of Development as well as the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Science and Technology, Dr. Arnaldo Ventura. An action plan will be arrived at and presented on Sunday, when the Prime Minister and the PSOJ president are slated to deliver their closing remarks.
PATTERSON CALLS FOR REFORM OF NAM FOR POLTICAL & ECONOMIC GAIN
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson says the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is as relevant today as it was at its formation 48 years ago but told fellow leaders at their 13th summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Tuesday (February 25) that the movement required urgent restructuring and re-branding to deal with current political and economic realities. Declaring that the movement offered the only counter force of reason, balance and objectivity in the post Cold War era where there is no longer a contest for unswerving allegiance between contending superpowers, Mr. Patterson said, “Today there is only one. But the Non-Aligned nations should not bow under the sway of a single dominion”.
He suggested that the Non-Aligned Movement take on a new more positive, more assertive and less reactive image and speak with unison and moral authority while being the critical ‘neighbourhood watch’ to halt the virulent advance of a single hegemonic power that now threatens the global community and plunges the world in crisis. Said Mr. Patterson: “We can be supine and submit; some may even be tempted to collaborate. But by neither will we be true to our people; true to ourselves or to future generations.”
On the current political crisis surrounding Iraq, Prime Minister Patterson made it clear that Jamaica could not endorse the justification of any unilateral decision to engage in military action, which he said is bound to result in the death of defenceless women, children and innocent citizens. He called on Iraq to comply immediately with Resolution 1441 of the United Nations Security Council in accordance with the obligation of all nations to comply with resolutions of that body.
The Prime Minister also spoke out strongly against terrorism noting that, “Acts of terrorism that target, or are indifferent to, the lives of innocent men, women and children are not justified by even the most grievous wrongs.” Those who commit them, he said, do not advance the cause they seek to serve.
He urged the NAM to clearly state not just what it is against but also that for which it stands. These principles, the Prime Minister said should embrace peace, justice and an equitable world; multilateralism and international cooperation; the rule of law worldwide; global survival through collective human security; the supremacy of the UN system, reformed to fulfil the principles and precepts of its Charter; a global economic system that responds to the needs of all the world’s people; and fairness in sharing the planet’s resources.
The case for restructuring the NAM in the economic sphere, Mr. Patterson said, was compelling. He urged decisive action by the organisation to ensure the implementation of the development goals set at the Millennium Summit in Havana in 2000. He proposed the establishment of Ministerial contact groups within the ambit of the group of 77 with specific mandates to drive the process for development and economic gain for developing countries specifically in the areas of money, finance and trade.
The groups would be mandated to clarify priority issues for co-operation and joint action together with the strategies and approaches that should be followed for pursuing them; and consult and interact with developed countries individually and in groups on the matters being pursued. The groups would also remain in touch over the course of specific negotiations and agree on the action to advocate common positions and raise international public awareness of them; as well as enlist the support of the non-governmental community in building up pressure concerning issues selected as well as in negotiating proposals emanating from them.
Noting that the decisions emanating from the World Trade Organisation for the negotiations after the Doha Ministerial meeting to constitute a development round had not yet been realised, Mr. Patterson said developing countries had to press their case vigorously on agriculture, non-tariff barriers, special and differential treatment; a programme of action for small developing countries, dumping and subsidies, trade in services and regional agreements.
The restructuring of the movement must also acknowledge the empowerment of the world’s people, Prime Minister Patterson emphasized, pointing out that the people of all countries are allies in the cause of the NAM. Said Mr. Patterson: “In all the regions of the South, we have to ask ourselves for how much longer can our poor, hungry and sick, be expected to remain at their gates without convincing prospects of betterment?”
He stressed that the time for talking was over and that decisive action had to be the exclusive pre-occupation of the Non-Aligned Movement to make a reality the textual consensus reached at the millennium summit on eradicating hunger and poverty. “Timing is of the essence to spur development and tackle poverty as a top global priority,” the Prime Minister said, noting that there was the danger of the current international political situation leading to the abandonment of critical development efforts.
He urged greater levels of practical co-operation among countries of the South as multilateralism alone would not suffice. Mr. Patterson concluded: “The Challenge that confronts us is massive; the forces ranged against us are formidable. It will not be enough to respond with scattered resistance. Our solidarity must be more sustained, more structured, more coherent, better organised. Let us in Kuala Lumpur launch a serious process of restructuring and re-branding. Let us issue a mandatory injunction for action now. It may be our last chance to do so in our time.”
JAMAICAN AND MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENTS SIGN LETTER OF INTENT FOR MoBAY BYPASS
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb. 25 (JIS):
A Letter of Intent for the financing and construction of a bypass road for Montego Bay was signed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by representatives of the Jamaican Government and Malaysia’s construction industry authority on Tuesday (Feb. 25).
Prime Minister P. J. Patterson who spoke at the signing ceremony, said the 12 kilometre toll road was necessary to complement segments I and II of the North Coast Highway development and to solve the problem of traffic congestion in the resort city. He said the project was in keeping with other major initiatives linking the cruise ship port and the Sangster International Airport as part of the home porting development being contemplated for the city.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Works, Dr. Alwyn Hayles signed on behalf of the Jamaican Government, while Hamzah B. Hasan, Chief Executive Officer of the state run Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) signed on behalf of the CIDB-Ranhill Consortium, which will implement the project. The signing was witnessed by Malaysia’s Minister of Works, Sammy Vellu and Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, K. D. Knight.
The Malaysians are expected to provide about 60 per cent of the US$70 million to build the bypass road.
Hailing the deal as an example of meaningful South-South co-operation, Prime Minister Patterson noted that he and Malaysia’s Prime Minister,
Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad shared a conviction that developing countries should collaborate with each other to improve the lives of their people, rather than have their future determined by the developed countries of the North.
“By this signing we are opening a new chapter of co-operation between the Governments and people of Malaysia and Jamaica. We value this partnership with Malaysia that combines the commitment of my Government to continue the development of Jamaica’s infrastructure, with the visionary approach of the Malaysian Government to this kind of South-South co-operation,” Mr. Patterson added.
The Prime said that based on the complexity of the project and the fact that it was being undertaken, not just for the present but also for succeeding generations, more technical studies, costing and design work as well as the accompanying land acquisitions would have to be undertaken. The current indicative timetable, he said, called for the project to be started within 12 months.
Prime Minister Patterson expressed appreciation on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica to the Government of Malaysia for their involvement in the project. He noted that the proposal for the financing and construction of the Montego Bay bypass road came out of the September 2001 visit to Jamaica by the Malaysian Works Minister, who he said, had devoted much time and energy to the preliminary work and ensured its approval by the Malaysian Government.
The project has been spearheaded by the Development Bank of Jamaica, led by its Managing Director, Kingsley Thomas, who also attended the signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.
Prime Minister Patterson highlighted the existing co-operation between Jamaica’s newly created National Works Agency (NWA) and the Malaysian Highway Authority. He pointed to the pattern of heavy rainfall which was common to Jamaica and Malaysia and expressed the view that the NWA had a lot to learn from the expertise of the Malaysians in the areas of road maintenance and drainage.
Also present at the signing were Member of Parliament for North West
St. James, Dr. Horace Chang; Government Senator and Chairman of the Greater Montego Bay Redevelopment Committee, Noel Sloley; and NWA Head, Ivan Anderson.
JAMAICA, MALAYSIA REVIEW COOPERATION, AGREE TO STRENGTHEN EDUCATION TIES
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb. 22 (JIS):
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson on Saturday (February 22) held bilateral talks with his Malaysian counterpart, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad ahead of the 13th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement being held in Kuala Lumpur on Monday and Tuesday (February 24-25). The leaders discussed a range of political and economic issues including the existing cooperation agreement between the countries.
Prime Minister Patterson thanked the Government of Malaysia for providing technical assistance through the Malaysia Highway Authority to improve the management and supervision capability of the National Works Agency and to assist with the evaluation of tenders for Highway 2000, the first phase of which is to be completed this year.
Mr. Patterson described the relationship between Malaysia and Jamaica as a model for South-South cooperation and one, which had the potential for further development. “Jamaica appreciates this assistance which has been of tremendous benefit to us particularly in light of significant damage done to the island’s road network by heavy rains and repeated flooding over a short period of time,” the Jamaican Prime Minister said.
He also expressed the Government’s appreciation for the offer from the Malaysian Government to assist with the design, construction and financing of the 12 kilometres Montego Bay Bypass Road, which he said was critical to easing the traffic problems in that city. A letter of intent for the project is to be signed in Kuala Lumpur between the Jamaican Government and the Malaysian Construction Industry Development Board next week.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Mahathir expressed an interest in exploring new areas of cooperation with Jamaica including technology. Prime Minister Patterson pointed to an existing university exchange programme between the two countries, which he said could be enhanced. Said Mr. Patterson: “We welcome this form of bilateral co-operation and we want to encourage it. Educational advancement is not only the key to the future, but also a way of bringing our people closer.”
The two leaders agreed on the need for associations of developing countries such as the Non-Aligned Movement, the G15 and the Group of 77 to devote more attention to international economic issues in the course of globalisation and the need for follow-up mechanism to advance work programmes.
Prime Ministers Mahathir and Patterson reiterated their commitment to multilateralism and the resolution of political conflict without aggression. They also expressed total and unequivocal rejection of terrorism and oppression of any kind.
SENIOR OFFICIALS MEET IN MALAYSIA TO DRAFT NON-ALIGNED POSITIONS
Kuala Lumpur, February 20:
Representatives of the Jamaican Government are participating in a two-day senior officials meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) which opened at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday (February 20). The senior officials' meeting is being held before the summit of Heads of Government of the Non-Aligned Movement in Kuala Lumpur on Monday and Tuesday February 24-25. Prime Minister P.J. Patterson is leading Jamaica’s delegation to the summit, while Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade K.D. Knight is expected to head Jamaica’s participation in Ministerial talks among NAM members on Saturday (February 22).
In the meetings on Thursday and Friday senior officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade are meeting with delegates from 113 other member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement. They will consider the draft document stating the movement’s position on a range of political, economic and social issues to be reflected in the official Kuala Lumpur Declaration to be agreed on and released at the end of the summit.
Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Charmaine Constantine; Director of the International Organisations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Mrs. Sheila Sealy Montieth; Communication Consultant to the Prime Minister, Huntley Medley and Opposition Member of Parliament Dr. Horace Chang – who is a member of Jamaica’s delegation to the summit – attended the opening session of the meeting on Thursday.
The OPM and Foreign Ministry officials are expected to be joined on Friday by Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Stafford Neil in ensuring that the views of the Jamaican Government are adequately reflected in the final document to be presented to the leaders of the NAM when they meet. The senior officials will work through a committee dealing with political matters, another looking at social and economic issues and a working group on the situation regarding Iraq, which is a member state of the NAM.
VALUES AND ATTITUDES – THE 2003 PHASE TO BE INTRODUCED
The new thrust in the Values and Attitudes Programme, to be known as Values and Attitudes – the 2003 Phase, will be introduced at a ceremony at the Northern Caribbean University on Wednesday morning, February 26th.
The Honourable Burchell Whiteman, Minister of Information, who has portfolio responsibility for Values and Attitudes – the 2003 Phase, will formally outline the Statement of Purpose for the Programme.
The Statement of Purpose will be followed by the inaugural address by the Chairman of the National Steering Committee of the Programme, the Reverend Marjorie Lewis of the United Church of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Whiteman has said that Values and Attitudes – the 2003 Phase is “to get the country to unite around a common vision and a common strategy to encourage values and attitudes that will have a positive impact on our behaviour as a nation and improve the quality of all our lives but especially the lives of our children.”
Minister Whiteman said that Mandeville was selected to introduce the new thrust because by going to the centre of Jamaica the intention was to send a symbolic message that even if the Government had a role to play, the Values and Attitudes Programme was not a government programme and Kingston was not Jamaica.
He said that he was aware of several groups and institutions in Mandeville expressing a real desire to help to fashion a new Jamaica. He said that people in central and southern Jamaica have shown great enthusiasm about the Programme. “However the function could have been held in virtually any other town outside of Kingston,” Minister Whiteman said.
Mr. Whiteman conceded that some in leadership positions may not necessarily have led by example in the matter of positive values and attitudes and said, “no matter what sphere of work we are involved in we need to reflect the values and attitudes campaign in our own lives.”
“Let us proceed with the campaign, let us engage our politicians, leaders in the public sector, leaders in the private sector, heads of households, workers and professionals; let us engage everybody because no matter where you are in society, there is a contribution you must make if we are to return to civility, understanding, tolerance and respect for each other,” the Minister said.
Other highlights of the introduction ceremony include messages of endorsement of the Values and Attitudes Programme from the Prime Minister, the Most Honourable P.J. Patterson and the Jamaica Council of Churches.
There will also be expressions of commitment from the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, the Ministers’ Fraternal and the youth programme, JAMVAT. Students and other young people will also be participating in the programme.
The event will be chaired by Dr. Herbert Thompson, President of NCU. It starts at 10:30 a.m., is open to the public and will be broadcast nationally.