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  • Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) remains an essential element of the nation’s institutional framework.
  • He was addressing the 47th annual Victoria Cross Dinner, held at the Jamaica Officers’ Club, Up Park Camp, Kingston, on May 22.
  • Dr. Phillips noted that this year the government will be spending significant sums to re-equip the JDF Air Wing and to provide a set of armoured cars for the infantry.

Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) remains an essential element of the nation’s institutional framework.

“It has its own unique and autonomous space in the nation’s framework of institutions and it is for that reason that we have continued, within our limited resources, to provide, such as we have, to not only sustain but to upgrade the capacities of the JDF,” Dr. Phillips said.

He was addressing the 47th annual Victoria Cross Dinner, held at the Jamaica Officers’ Club, Up Park Camp, Kingston, on May 22.

Dr. Phillips noted that this year the government will be spending significant sums to re-equip the JDF Air Wing and to provide a set of armoured cars for the infantry.

“It is true to say that the maintenance of the JDF and its capabilities is an expensive proposition, but it is an indispensible proposition which the nation dare not shirk,” Dr. Phillips said.

He pointed out that “when all is said and done,” the provision and maintenance of a secured national environment is an essential feature of economic progress.

The Minister informed that World Bank estimates suggests that if Jamaica  reduces its murder rate from the current 40 per 100,000, to about five or six per 100,000, approximately five percentage points would be added to the rate of economic growth annually. “It is a challenge that we all need to confront,” the Minister said.

He noted that the JDF is currently confronting this challenge and the organization has never shirked or turned away from a challenge or mission.

“The JDF is a worthy repository of the values so ably embodied by the soldiers who we honour tonight. It is now our Jamaica Defence Force. Its values have stood the test of time and have proven to be values that need to be spread to every corner of our nation. These are values that define what it means to be Jamaican,” Dr. Phillips said.

The annual Victoria Cross Dinner commemorates acts of bravery by two outstanding West Indian soldiers, Private Samuel Hodge and Sergeant William James Gordon of the West India Regiment.

These soldiers made history by being the first non-Europeans to be awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery in the Armed Forces of the Commonwealth of Nations. They were so decorated for their great bravery on the battlefield during the 19th Century campaigns of West Africa.

Each year, units of the Jamaica Regiment stages a number of commemorative events to honour the memory of the soldiers. To qualify for this award the soldier must render service, in the face of enemy action, above and beyond the call of duty. The JDF has no living recipients of the Victoria Cross.