JANUARY 1, 2002

We have come to the end of a year, which has been widely accepted as one of the most traumatic in recent human history.

The catastrophic events of September 11th will remain indelibly etched in the minds
of this generation and will mark a defining moment in the annals of human cilvilisation.

The effects have been far-reaching. We have not been immune from the fall-out, but we are still standing on our feet and fighting for survival.

Here at home, we have suffered the violent July convulsions in Western Kingston and during October the ravages of flooding, which resulted in widespread destruction, particularly severe in Portland and St. Mary.

Unlike those manifestations of nature, which we cannot control, the elimination of violence lies within our grasp and we must all become engaged so as to abandon the path of destruction and pursue the road to peace.

Despite all the far-reaching repercussions and adverse consequences, which these events have precipitated, Jamaica has endured and built on the sinews of our strength as a people. We have found the courage "amid the tempests of the changing years".

Indeed, we have made considerable progress in many areas of national life. We are steadily transforming the promise of preceding years into positive benefits for the people by application of humane and creative solutions to the age-old stumbling blocks.

FINSAC's task of rescuing 1.5 million accounts, of securing the life-savings of thousands of depositors, of preserving 570,000 life insurance policies and protecting 55,000 pensioners is now virtually complete and will therefore soon close its shutters.

Meanwhile the Financial Sector and the Insurance market are rebounding with fewer but stronger and better capitalised institutions.

Our investment in education and training is beginning to pay dividends. We have continued our efforts to create strong, proud and safe communities to build and restore vital community infrastructure, especially within our inner cities.

The provision of houses, water and public transportation has surpassed all previous records of performance.

The programme of road rehabilitation and construction of new highways is there for all to see.

The dawning of a New Year is a time of hope and promise.

It provides an opportunity for each and every one of us to renew our energies; to refresh our spirits and strengthen our resolve to keep moving ahead. It is a time to correct whatever mistakes we have made in the past; to focus on what we can achieve as a nation and to strive for attaining worthwhile personal goals.

If we all work together, we can overcome the seemingly intractable problems-crime and violence, the ready dispensation of justice for all; the creation of more employment opportunities, especially for our youth and women.

We can foster deeper community participation in decision making and reduce the levels of tension throughout our society.

The New Year promises to have some good things in store for us - our 40th Anniversary as a Nation; the Royal Visit; the passage of the Charter of Rights; the completion of Local Government Reform; the start of our Social Justice Programme; the ongoing revitalisation of agriculture; the commencement of Highway 2000; the expansion of the Bauxite Sector; the creation of quality jobs through Information Technology and the hosting of the World Junior Games - to name but a few.

As we enter a New Year, let us remember our stalwart citizens who remain the anchor, who exemplify our resilience and innate capacity to conquer whatever challenges may emerge.

Let us pay deserving tribute to those who make the sacrifices to ensure a sound education and to maintain a loving family environment for their children; those who face the vagaries of nature to plough and plant our fields; those who make sure in the factories and at the workplaces that we keep the engines of production running; those who give religious counsel and social guidance.

Let us salute all those whose daily devotion to duty, integrity and simple decency contribute so much to making this country the great place it is to live.

Whether our days are spent in high places, in our bustling cities or in some small secluded town or quiet village, each one of us can make a positive contribution to our island, our community, our own home.

Every man, woman and child can make a difference in order to fulfil the vision of a prosperous and just society.

Let us all aim to "big up" Jamaica - not to tear it down, but to lift up our beloved country - to place the national good before selfish ambitions.

I retain a confident belief in our country and our possibilities as a people. We have real strengths, solid achievements and strong roots. We are a great people with a proud history.

May God grant us peace in our land and love that we might share with each other throughout the year. May the Almighty bless us with wisdom to follow only after those things that are good, wholesome and right.

And may He grant us strength to accomplish the mission of creating that prosperous, quality society we are working so hard to build.

I wish every Jamaican at home and abroad a year filled with peace, love, hope happiness and true prosperity.

P.J. Patterson
Prime Minister


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