Current Affairs

Current Affairs




We must move forward, together

Wednesday, January 01, 2003


Prime Minister P J Patterson

My fellow Jamaicans:

The year 2002 has just ended, leaving us with much to be thankful for, but also with much on which to reflect and so set our course for the challenges that we must confront resolutely in the New Year.

Let me pay tribute to every one of you who throughout the year, and particularly during the Christmas season, made a positive difference to the lives of our people in one way or another.

The high rate of crime has been an area of profound concern. We are encouraged by the fact that our security forces have found new levels of determination and organisation in tackling criminal activity and restoring confidence. But we are only at the beginning of a process, which we have pledged to sustain.

Last year, Jamaica once again proved to the world that democracy is alive and well in our country. No praise is too high for all those who made it possible. The people have spoken. It is time for all of us to come together for the good of our nation.

Almost everywhere, 2002 was a difficult year for the economy. We are still suffering from the downturn in international travel, the decline in the global economy and the effects of major floods. All of this contributed to fiscal challenges, which we are obliged to face squarely.

All things considered, our businessmen and women, our industrialists, farmers and tourism - managers and workers have enabled us to end the year with reasonably good outcomes in some important areas of the economy such as bauxite, tourism and the financial sector.

My Friends, each New Year brings with it the possibility of new beginnings. Growth and job creation will be the order of business in the New Year.

If we are to succeed, we must bring the whole society into the mainstream of development.

The government has created the national framework. We will provide the leadership. But essential to our success are the efforts and contributions of all citizens. At the start of 2003 I invite you all to join the crusade on three important fronts:

1) We must work together to increase the momentum of all the national development programmes for poverty alleviation and social renewal. There are at this time several programmes addressing urban renewal, training and social security. However, there is now a greater urgency about their implementation which demands a higher level of output from the various agencies, the business sector and community organisations. I will be taking further steps to ensure that there is proper co-ordination and enhanced leadership of the entire process. The well-being of the people who are affected by these programmes must always be kept in sharp focus. Our success depends on showing proper respect to them. We must listen intently to their concerns.

2) No major change in our social patterns, no success in improving conditions within the country can be achieved without some contribution from each of us. We have to operate a budget which is fiscally responsible and yet afford the costs of development projects which are vital for the social and economic prosperity of our people.

We must spawn a positive economic outlook for our country in the international arena, which itself is important for investment, economic expansion and job creation. In 2003 we must manage in a serious way to improve our levels of productivity.

3)The third area in which I invite all Jamaicans to join hands and hearts is in the fight against crime. The government and the security forces must do what is right and necessary. The security forces are doing their part to ensure that the peace-loving, law-abiding citizens of Jamaica, including those in the inner cities, can go about their daily lives without undue fear of those who have chosen to live outside the law. It is equally important that we see crime fighting as a truly national effort which requires that citizens also do the right thing.

Every Jamaican has a part to play in the restoration of law, order and justice. Observing the laws and regulations, whether they relate to traffic, littering, loud noises, paying your lawful customs charges, or reporting wrongdoing - all these contribute to the preservation of good order and support a climate for crime reduction. Peace and good order are prerequisites for progress.

But peace and good order are best nurtured by sound values and proper attitudes.

The Values and Attitudes programme will move into a new phase in 2003. I encourage every man, woman, youth and child to identify with it for your own and your country's sake.

It is of fundamental importance that we display the principles of respect for self and others, of discipline and sensitivity as we strive to become a gentler and more tolerant society.

Some of these fine qualities of our people came to the fore when Jamaica was on show to the rest of the world in 2002.

During the year a number of major development projects were either completed or commenced. There was a memorable Royal visit.

The whole world took note of how efficiently we organised the World Junior Athletic Championships and how we celebrated our 40th anniversary of Independence in fine style.

Let us therefore take those skills, that creativity, those displays of excellence with us into 2003. Let us show ourselves and the rest of the world that we are a God-blessed, resilient and capable nation.

Let us devote our energies to building the structures of unity, peace and goodwill as we deal with one another from day to day.

I wish for you in your personal lives as well as in your daily work all that is good in 2003. I pray that the Almighty will continue to bless and heal our land, so that we and all the nations of the world may enjoy peace in our time.