- Let me wish all of you a happy, safe and productive New Year.
- Good governance, requires those in government to see themselves as stewards and guardians of public resources, which are to be spent for the public good rather than private benefit.
- As we confront the challenges of 2018, may God bless you all and may God bless Jamaica Land we love.
Let me wish all of you a happy, safe and productive New Year.
As we usher in 2018, let us thank the Almighty for his many blessings that have sustained this past year.
Even as we endured floods and the stresses of climate change, we were nevertheless spared the widespread devastation of the hurricanes which affected others in the region.
Unfortunately, much of the difficulties we experienced during the past year were the result of failures of government policy.
With the run-away murder rate that the country has experienced this past year, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to the many families that have suffered the loss of loved ones.
Economic growth rates remain below expectations and the incomes of many workers, especially those in the public sector, have stagnated.
I think I speak for the majority of well-thinking Jamaicans in expressing hope that the wage negotiations between the government and the public sector workers, including the Police, Teachers, and Health Workers, will be speedily concluded on the basis of mutual respect and realism.
It is important that the government recognizes the tremendous sacrifices that have been made by these workers on behalf of the country in the recent past as the Economic Reform Programme got underway to put the country on sound footing.
Surmounting these and other challenges will require a full-fledged and comprehensive mobilisation of the nation’s will. In turn, such a revitalisation of the nation’s spirit can only take place, if it is accompanied by a recommitment to high standards of governance.
There must be no place for corruption or cronyism which as the Contractor General has suggested has become a feature of recent governmental operations. This is evident in the now infamous $600 Million Bushing Programme and also raises its head in the used car scandal the results of which have also hindered the efforts of the Police.
Good governance, requires those in government to see themselves as stewards and guardians of public resources, which are to be spent for the public good rather than private benefit.
Government officials must see themselves as subject to laws, rather than as breakers of the law whether in search of electoral or other partisan advantage. Good governance requires, too, that Jamaica protects its reputation internationally in the United Nations and elsewhere as a country that stands by its long-held principle as a defender of the causes of peace, self-determination and the rule of international law.
Only by supporting these principles can small countries like ours be assured of our independence and our survival, in a world where some believe that “might is right”.
Yet, for all this and despite all the challenges that we face the arrival of a New Year should give us hope. Our hope is in the resilience, tenacity, courage and good sense of the Jamaican people. Our hope rests on Jamaica’s long history and the great heritage of our forefathers and mothers who have overcome the challenges of centuries of history against great odds.
As Opposition Leader, I pledge vigilance, moral courage and a willingness to have dialogue, and collaborate on initiatives that serve the national interest. My Shadow Cabinet and I will continue to play our part in holding the government accountable as we advocate for a better Jamaica that works for all, and not just a few.
Now is the time for all of us in our families, in our churches, in our classrooms, and at our work places and on the corner to do what we can to bring an end to the scourge of violence and bloodshed that has spread across the country. Let each of us counsel peace, instead of war. Let us all make our contribution to the demand for higher standards of transparency and integrity in governance.
The foundation of any country is its people, and their values and the courage and resilience that they apply in the face of the challenges of life. Let us resolve that in the course of this year we shall all redouble our efforts to build a Jamaica of peace and social justice, and which offers hope and opportunity and a real chance in life for all Jamaicans.
As we confront the challenges of 2018, may God bless you all and may God bless Jamaica Land we love.