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As we enter into a brand new year, I trust that you had a happy and peaceful Christmas and that the New Year finds you renewed, refreshed and hopeful. It is a great blessing to be here, alive and alert to greet 2008 and I give thanks for this privilege.
During the year, there were groundbreaking achievements, especially with regard to new investments, infrastructure developments and advances in social programmes such as housing and health care. In the latter months, we were sorely tried by extreme weather conditions and agriculture has taken a beating.
It was a year of fundamental decision-making having come through both General and Local Government elections.
We hope 2008 will bring us new opportunities to triumph over our challenges, as well as new situations to test our mettle and strengthen our faith. The question is, however, what will we bring to this New Year, to ensure that we realize our cherished hopes and dreams?
The majority of Jamaicans want and expect a change in their circumstances. They expect to see an end to violence, improvement in financial prospects and good governance based on genuine caring for people and true democracy
If these goals seem to be moving farther away from us, then we need to take new approaches. I am therefore suggesting that we make 2008, the year when all of us become more determined than ever before, and more deliberate, in our efforts to bring about the real changes we would like to see in our country.
We live in a world that offers the best opportunities to those who are willing to take charge of their lives and rule their destiny. It is a world for self-starters; those who are self-motivated. We are reminded by Paul the Apostle that “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.”
To use this power over our experiences as a nation, we must become more informed about decisions being taken that will affect our present and future. It is a time to sit up and take notice and to use every available channel to make an input in decision-making both nationally and locally. Positive, participatory citizenship does not end with elections.
The present economic and social situation is calling on everyone to be more creative and resourceful. Government must provide the appropriate framework and citizens must ensure that their capacity for self-determination is never diminished, but constantly being strengthened. There is work to do. Certainly, we will need to rely heavily on community power, to be successful in tackling poverty, crime and providing an environment in which our children will be well cared for and free from abuse.
Therefore, my fellow Jamaicans, let us seize this moment to make a fresh start. In 2008, we can become much more involved in ensuring that we get what we truly deserve. We have produced outstanding citizens, recorded excellent achievements, and given much to the world, and we deserve the best.
As we go forward, I would like to wish for you and your loved ones a wonderful year of personal fulfillment, a year in which you are blessed with peace, love and prosperity within your home, your community and in this nation of ours. Happy 2008! Let’s make it great! May God bless you richly!