JIS News

Outgoing Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson, has asked that his legacy not be judged solely by achievements up to March 30, when he officially demits office, but by the foundation laid for developments, which would unfold thereafter.
Mr. Patterson, who was speaking at the launch of two books: ‘The Transforming Landscape of Jamaica’ and ‘PJ Patterson in the Eyes of the World’ yesterday (Mach 29) at the Office of the Prime Minster, said that while it was an honour to have served the country as head of government for 14 years, “it has not been an easy road”.
“It has been for me, an honour and a privilege to have served my country at the highest level, and as Buju (Banton) says, ‘it has not been an easy road’. There are times when you hear things on the radio and on television, read things in the newspaper, and you see how the cartoonist portray you and you need to go and stand before the mirror and really ask yourself, ‘is this who they are really writing and talking about’,” he said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that he was leaving office at a time that he had set when he took the oath of office in March of 1992. He explained that the timetable was strategically planned to “fulfill the mission and achieve the purposes, which motivated me and others like me to have entered the political process in the first instance.”
Among the challenges faced at the time, the Prime Minister said, “was to be able to survive in a new globalised environment and to compete successfully, and to achieve the levels of productivity and efficiencies that were required for our very survival”.
Another imperative, he said, was to ensure the upliftment of Jamaicans, while at the same time having to contend with the economic restraints that were imposed by the global environment.
“I believe to achieve that would require some time and I thought there were certain things that would have to be done locally, regionally and internationally to enable that transformation to take place, including the transformation, which has to take place within the society itself and the equipping of our people with the skills.required for us to be an efficient and productive society”, he stated.
Mr. Patterson further pointed out, that having come to office at a time when the world was no longer polarized, “we had to implement a foreign policy that not only recognize this to be a fact, but also to prepare yourself to respond”.
It was because of this reason, he said, that so much emphasis was placed on strengthening CARICOM and deepening regional integration, and working with other developing countries within the hemisphere and the larger global community.
“You may ask, ‘why does Jamaica spends its time and use so much of its expertise in groups like the G-77 and China?’ and I will tell you why; that is what gives us collective strength and some power and when in that group, there is China, which is experiencing unparalleled growth, you better believe when we talk we don’t talk only for Jamaica, but we are talking for the wider global community, and whether they (world powers) like Jamaica or they don’t, they better take stock and listen,” he stated.
The Prime Minister pointed out, that having progressed to a certain point, in terms of achieving the stated goals, he decided to pass on the baton to someone, who would be able to complete the journey. Meanwhile, he has encouraged Jamaicans to move away from an almost total dependence on commodities into an area of offering competitive services, noting that Jamaica and the wider Caribbean had a natural advantage in this area.
“We need to look not only to tourism but also at our creativity as a people. We have to harness it and exploit it to the fullest,” he stated.
Turning to the books, the Prime Minister said that the publications demonstrated that “we can tell our story and tell it well”.
‘The Transforming Landscape of Jamaica’ is a compilation of papers from a series of panel discussions, which took place at Jamaica House from November 2005 to March 2006, while ‘PJ Patterson in the Eyes of the World’ is a compilation of tributes from various regional and international heads of government to the Prime Minister, as he demits office.