JIS News

Over the next few weeks, the Government will be engaged in intense discussions at Cabinet level, with policy technicians, the private sector, trade unions, and critical stakeholders, as it continues to secure the country’s future, in light of the global economic challenges.
Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, who made the disclosure during his New Year’s message to the nation, informed that these consultations will coincide with the preparation of the new budget, which is due at the end of March.
However, he said that, “it will involve much more than just putting together a budget. It will involve fundamental changes that will enable us to make a quantum leap from a frustrating past into a confident future.”
Mr. Golding said he did not underestimate the enormity of the challenges that the country faces, but is not frightened by them, and urged Jamaicans not to be daunted.
The Prime Minister noted that unfortunately, the global financial crisis of 2008 is “alive and well,” and that while its effects might have been abated, its impact in terms of bank failures and investment flows, availability of credit, currency instability, the demand for goods and services, job losses, and general economic uncertainty, will continue for some time.
He said that forecasts suggest that recovery might not begin until 2010 and therefore, the primary focus and responsibility of the Government is how to manage the country through 2009, and position for the earliest possible recovery.
The Prime Minister emphasised that in spite of the difficulties that the country experienced in 2008, there are some “great moments,” such as the outstanding performance of local athletes at the Beijing Olympics, which “filled us with pride and served as a reminder that we have it in us to accomplish great things. They are undoubtedly our heroes of 2008”.
Crime, he said, was a major concern, as the brutality of murders committed, especially among women and children, caused great alarm and outrage throughout the country. “The level of violent crime is far too high – one of the highest in the world – and we are going to have to intensify even further, the efforts we are making to turn back the tide of criminal activity plaguing the land. We must keep up the pressure for 2009,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Governor General, His Excellency, Professor Sir Kenneth Hall urged the nation to, in the New Year “resolve to pay greater attention to fundamental values, traditions and customs, which have been the mainstay of our Jamaican society. The New Year brings new challenges, but it also offers us new opportunities for further growth and development. Let us use the extraordinary energy we possess to accomplish what we will. Punctuality, self-discipline, self-respect, caring and sharing with others, and devotion to country, are values which will ensure the advancement of our society”.
He said the New Year always brings renewed hope for success. “The anticipation is perhaps even greater than it was last year, given the challenges we faced in many areas,” Sir Kenneth noted.
The Governor General further pointed out that in order for the nation to fulfill its expectations, “we should examine the factors both internal and external to Jamaica, which are responsible for the many issues, which the country is now facing. Whatever the prescriptive measures that will be applied, we must resolve to emerge from the existing crises as a stronger nation”.
He said social transformation is required to change the attitudes of Jamaicans, from a culture of giving prominence to external influences, to the realization that indigenous resources and institutions should be preserved for the benefit of all.
“Many families have had to pay the high social and economic costs associated with crime and violence. Others face joblessness and financial uncertainty in these harsh economic times. This is all the more reason why the transformation we seek must take place at every level of the society, in order to give everyone an opportunity to recover and rebuild,” Sir Kenneth stated.
Opposition Leader, Portia Simpson Miller, also echoed the call for renewed devotion to nationalism for social and economic prosperity stating, “this year must be the year to give renewed meaning to our national motto – ‘Out of many one People’.
“The recent national experiences have given clearer meaning to the concept of people-centered policy and the need to balance people’s lives as we keep focus on balancing the books. At this time of grave economic and social challenges, we need to bond together – community by community and parish by parish – as one family working for the betterment of our country. We can do it if we work together; if all of us can unite around some common goals,” she stated.
One such goal, she said, is the love and protection of women and children, to make the country safe for the next generation of Jamaicans.
“Another is to provide even greater care for the elderly as we thank them for their contribution to our lives and continue to glean knowledge from their life experiences. All of us must demonstrate the belief that together, we truly can succeed. As we face the New Year, we must face it with a spirit of determination, dedication and the commitment to change things which hold us back,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.