CONTRIBUTION TO THE 2008/2009 STATE OF THE NATION DEBATE BY SENATOR WARREN NEWBY


Mr. President, members of this honorable senate it is with deep gratitude and sense of responsibility that I rise this morning to make my contribution to this state of the nation debate. I do so Mr. President in the context of parliamentary secretary in a Ministry charged with the responsibility of Social Transformation, through its subject areas of Information, Culture ,Youth ,Sports, Community Development, Entertainment and Gender Affairs.
Allow me the privilege, to express thanks to a number of persons: God Almighty for his continued protection and blessings, more than I that have been more than I have been deserving, to my wife and family for their continued support without which success in politics is not possible to the Honorable Prime Minister who saw fit to bestow on me this appointment, who Mr. President reminds us of Ester 4 vs. 14 “A man, who has come to the kingdom for such time as this “.He leads Mr. president with in the fine traditions of leaders that the JLP has provided the country, as Sir Alexander himself positioned, “What Jamaica needs is practical and sympathetic men interested in the country”. To my Honorable minister whose guidance I have come to rely on, to the staff at my office and at the national center for youth development. Last, but certainly not least the management and membership of Generation 2000 (G2K) an organization that I have had the privilege of leading for the last two (2) years.
Youth Empowerment
Mr. President, the title of my presentation is Youth Empowerment- the Catalyst for sustainable development and solution to the problems of our time. Youth empowerment Mr. President is the engagement and empowerment of young people to enhance their contribution to development. It is a rights base approach examining the challenges faced by young people and positioning them as a force for peace, equality and good governance as an essential resource for sustainable development and wealth creation.
Within this framework we seek to promote respect for human dignity and equality. We seek to promote the rule of law, good governance and the protection of the in alienable rights of all human beings. We seek to enhance the role of young people in every aspect of the development processes including: economics, health, protection of the environment, participation in decision making and leadership, entrepreneurship and security. Mr. Speaker I will be examining focal areas to achieving youth empowerment excepting for the areas of Health, Education and Sports which have been or will be dealt with by colleagues on this side.
Situational Analysis
Mr. President, there is no doubt that our country is weathering a most tempestuous storm, predicated on the escalation of Oil prices in the world, and increases in food prices ,triggering concomitant increases in inflation. This situation has been further complicated by an economic recession in the world largest economy, and the largest importer of Jamaican goods, the US of A. The crisis is one that we have been ill prepared for, because of a number of factors. One successive government has failed to take tough decisions in fear of the political outcomes of those decisions. Two, we are a country with very little resources to buffer us from external shocks. Three the last administration failed Mr. Speaker despite the ominous warning signs to place the country in a position to weather the prevailing crisis. Four Mr. President is the readiness and willingness of the Jamaican people themselves to make the small changes in their own lives that will augment the overall changes that we desire and need for our collective survival.
And I wish Mr. President to share a few examples.The Ministry of health spends, a large percentage of its budget on emergency care, it spends additional significant sums treating non communicable diseases, the origins of which are based on lifestyle choices, what we eat, how we conduct our lives. We can’t continue to eat fatty foods Mr. Speaker and hope for good health. Disease related to smoking, accidents related to drunken driving, and we are forced to pay as taxpayers for those decisions. Mr. President, the second example is the energy crisis. We do not produce oil. And even though the expressed intent is to diversify our energy sources, it is at best medium term. Therefore what has to be done Mr. President in the immediate short term is conservation. Simple things such as the turning off lights that are not in use, driving within the prescribed speed limits to conserve on gas, carpooling Mr. President are part and parcel of what it is that we do. I pause Mr. President to recommend that we as parliamentarians begin to practice this as symbol of our own commitment to change. The third Mr. President would be the issue of crime and violence. A significant number of murders are caused by domestic violence, families and neighbors’ who are unable to solve differences without coming to blows. If we were able to reason Mr. President then we would that we would have fewer murders. Mr. President the major percentage of murders has been perpetuated by gang violence, Mr. President but these gangs exist in communities, and these communities have citizens who are crying for government to do something and government is saying without your information and willingness to testify, there is a limit to what government can do.
Mr. President we also have a problem with productivity. Over the last 10 years, investment in capital goods such as machinery and information technology has been growing at a phenomenal rate of over 8 per cent per annum. However over that same period the country’s GDP was merely growing by a little over 1 per cent per annum. More recent data shows that the country’s output per worker have been relatively stagnant, with a growth rate of 0.01 per cent per annum for the period 1990 – 2003. This helps to explain the investment paradox that the country has been experiencing over the last 10 years. Despite record foreign direct investment our total factor productivity growth in Jamaica has been negative. Over the period 1990-2005 there have been a loss in total factor productivity of over 1 per cent per annum. This loss in productivity is the major reason I believe for our poor economic performance.
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