2016 New Year Message by the Prime Minister
The Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller ON, MP
My fellow Jamaicans, God has blessed us with the opportunity to witness the dawning of a new year. It is a fresh year full of hope and possibilities. Possibilities for progress and new achievements for ourselves, our families, our communities and our country.
For all of us, 2016 also brings opportunities for forgiveness, tolerance, love and unity.
As we close the pages of 2015 and turn the opening chapter of this brand new year, we have much that gives us hope. In our journey as a nation we have accomplished much, but there is so much more to be done.
The climate for investments has been improved tremendously. Several measures have been introduced to facilitate business expansion, new ventures and more jobs.
Your Government will continue to create the conditions for economic growth and job creation.
Our efforts have started to reap success, we must build on these.
I know that as a country, we have some way to go before ALL Jamaicans are able to benefit from these successes.
There are encouraging indications that 2016 will be a year of continued positive transformation for Jamaica and our people.
The confidence of local and international investors to do business in Jamaica is high, as attested by:
Local business and civil society groups. They have agreed that the main economic policies being pursued by our Government should be continued.
Further, our policies are supported by major international development partners.
We can all be proud that our country is on track to be successful in our ELEVENTH consecutive quarterly review by the IMF.
We are determined that this must be a year for the creation of more jobs.
Our concerted push for more jobs this year, will involve a major expansion in micro, small and medium size enterprises, as well as encouraging more large investments.
Thousands of new jobs will come on stream this year in the Business Process Outsourcing and call centre sector; tourism; manufacturing and agriculture.
Jamaicans and our visitors will experience further ease of travelling, and moving goods and services upon the completion of the North-South Highway this year.
My fellow Jamaicans:
A major part of our strategy towards economic progress for all, wealth creation and business expansion, is driving down the cost of doing business in Jamaica. One of these costs is associated with energy. Already, there has been a reduction of more than THIRTY per cent in the price of electricity.
I urge you to embark on energy conservation projects in your homes. Make good use of the energy conservation plans being offered by the utility companies to help us to conserve. There must be no retreat on the gains we have made.
As we ensure that Jamaicans benefit from the growing national economic success, we will also continue to advance the ownership society during 2016. This year, the National Housing Trust will be undertaking approximately 5,000 housing solutions in Westmoreland, Trelawny, St. James, St. Catherine, among other Parishes.
The New Year will also be one of continued improvement in the social sector.
Our investments in education will continue with over THREE THOUSAND new classroom spaces coming on stream. We will consolidate our achievements in literacy and in numeracy at the Primary level. At the secondary school level we will see more opportunities for our children to gain qualifications and skills in the Technical vocational areas.
The Government is also fully aware of the vital contribution that access to good health care plays in creating a more productive and successful nation.
This year, the Ministry of Health will step up the implementation of a ten-year strategic plan for upgrading health care services in Jamaica. We are working with all stakeholders to overcome the challenges that have beset the nation’s health sector.
The strengthening of social protection for vulnerable groups is also high on our agenda. Recently, the Government signed an Agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank to provide an additional SIX BILLION DOLLARS in cash grants to persons on PATH.
The security of the nation and protection from criminals will also receive renewed focus this year. We will continue to seek more effective ways to reduce the crime rate.
As we increase the Government’s support for the Security Forces, this year, we are focusing on:
Further integration of technology in crime fighting;
Deepening the partnership between the police and the community; and
Providing the security forces with the necessary training, equipment and vehicles.
Fellow Jamaicans, fighting crime is not just ‘a government business, it is OUR business” We, Government, and citizens must all work together to ensure that Jamaica becomes more and more a safe place to live, raise our families and do business.
As a nation on a mission towards economic independence and social justice for all, we cannot leave our youth behind. The Government, through Agencies, such as HEART-NTA will continue to facilitate training and job creation opportunities for our youth.
We are committed to increasing the number of young people and – older people – who are certified to work here and abroad.
My fellow Jamaicans, we are preparing to support our amazing athletes in the Rio Olympics later this year. My Government and I will never stop believing in the great potential of our Jamaican people.
I remind you of the words of our first National Hero, the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who said – and I quote:
“I trust that you will live today as to realize that you are masters of your own destiny, masters of your fate. If there is anything you want in this world it is for you to strike out with confidence and faith in self and reach it.” End quote.
Let us promise ourselves today that we will maintain a positive attitude throughout the year, whatever the challenges.
At the same time, I urge all Jamaicans to nurture a spirit of excellence in all that we do. Aim for the best. Let us also pursue excellence in all our relationships in our families, at work and in our communities .
Let us do our best to improve family life in Jamaica this year. Parents, strengthen your relationship with your children. Get to know them better. Don’t be afraid to be strict in holding to high expectations for your children; good manners and good values will go a long way in helping our children to lead successful lives.
In 2016 we need to reinforce the fact that we are one people. We must not let anything divide us. Although we have our differences, we have more in common than we have separating us.
When one Jamaican is successful, all of us share in that success. My fellow Jamaicans we are in this national enterprise of building Jamaica.
When our small country is voted as having the best performing stock market in the world in 2015, that is our success.
When Jamaica is rated as being among the TEN most improved economies in the world, that is our success .
When we reduce the national debt by TWENTY percent, that is our success.
When the gains of the Economic Reform Programme result in a significant increase in investment, that is because of the tremendous sacrifices of ALL of us.
The restraint of our workers, particularly public sector workers, displayed in 2015, shows that Jamaica’s achievements have been forged through your efforts and support for your country.
In the year just ended, you made significant sacrifices in the interest of our country. I thank you for your patriotism, your courage, your determination and your strength.
I thank the members of the Partnership-for-Jamaica, for working together with the Government to find solutions to the issues affecting the nation.
This year, let us redouble our efforts in our shared mission to build a better Jamaica. Let this be a year, when all Jamaicans unite and work together to achieve our goals of peace, security and an improved standard of living for all our people.
We are a strong and resilient people. Today, I declare in the words of Marcus Garvey that, “A greater future is in store for us; we have no cause to lose hope, or to become faint-hearted” End of quote.
If as individuals, we maintain a positive attitude and belief in ourselves;
If we pursue excellence in all we do;
If we never let go of hope;
We will, have a prosperous new year.
On this day, let us all learn from yesterday, live for today, work and pray for a brighter tomorrow.
May the light of peace, happiness and safety surround you and your loved ones throughout this New Year.
Let kindness and the spirit of love be kindled in our souls.
Let us be inspired to work diligently and creatively to achieve our goals.
I see a Jamaica this year that is deepening its democracy and systems of governance. I envision a Jamaica where we are exhibiting the values and attitudes which foster peace and goodwill. I see a Jamaica where citizens are actively involved in their communities. It is a Jamaica that exemplifies the national spirit that “we little but we tallawah”.
Let 2016 be a year we can look back on with pride and satisfaction. If that is to be so, we have to start from today. Hug our children today. Encourage the children of others today. Say a kind word today. Do a good deed today. Plant hope in someone’s heart today. Give cheer to an unhappy person today.
May 2016 see your dreams come true. May you shine as never before, believe as never before and soar as never before.
Happy New Year!
God bless you. God bless Jamaica, land we love.