2016 NEW YEAR MESSAGE
FROM THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
ANDREW HOLNESS, MP
We give God thanks for sparing our lives to see another year. As we embrace the New Year for all its potential and promise, we give a thought for our loved ones, protectors, heroes and benefactors who left us last year. In honoring them, we think as well, on our children, especially our newborn. This will be their first year and we pledge to be their protectors, heroes and benefactors, to help them in the relay of life to fulfill the promise and potential they hold for years to come.
The blank slate of the New Year will be formed by our desires, wishes, dreams. The actual outcome however, is determined by what we do; the commitments we make and keep. We will brush off last year’s resolution about eating healthy and exercising more. We will once again say this is the year that we will stop paying rent and own our house or stop paying taxi fare and buy a car, or start our own business. Whatever our private dreams, for them to become realities, we must actualize them with resolute and instrumental action. There are some universal truths which we must incorporate in our New Year rituals of wishes and resolutions. As we wish for wealth, we must bear in mind there is no wealth without work. As we wish for success, there is no success without sacrifice. There is no progress without planning and no prosperity without your participation.
Nationally, our lives continue to be impacted by crime, especially murders, and last year even in the yuletide season, we saw the murder of law enforcement officers. We also saw an increase in the number of children being murdered. An effective crime strategy that yields sustained long-term reductions continues to elude the government and by all indications is likely to be a feature of the New Year. We acknowledge that there is a resource constraint. However, this can be overcome by strategic deployment of scarce resources to tackle the main drivers of crime. And this is not just within the Ministry of National Security or the police force. It requires system-wide coordination of resources and a global view of the problem. For example, greater attention needs to be paid to the parallel but mutually reinforcing areas of Justice and unattached youth. Improvements in the coordination of resources in these areas could have a significant impact on reducing crime.
Healthcare continued to be a problem for our country leading to the ultimate tragedy of the death of 19 babies. Our water problems were exacerbated by seasonal drought. Unemployment continued to rise, particularly among youth. Our dollar continues to devalue and our taxes continue to increased. All indications are that these problems will be with us in 2016 as there was no real resolute and instrumental actions on the part of the government to address these issues. Again we acknowledge that there are resource constraints.
However, we do not accept this as an excuse for a government not fulfilling its core function of making good policy, regulating economic and social actors and holding to account its agents. Many of the problems we faced in 2015 and will probably face in 2016 have less to do with resource constraints and more to do with the breakdown of the core functions of policy, regulation and accountability of government. The fire at the Riverton City dump, bad gas in our cars, and the death of the babies in our hospital facilities exemplifies this point.
I am sure you see many other areas in which, given limited resources, a government that is fulfilling its core function and applying just a little more thought, creativity and resolution would make life much easier for all. Economic growth continues to elude us, despite fiscal discipline. Indeed, there seems to be an abiding belief that fiscal discipline by itself will lead to economic growth. Very little creativity is being applied to ways in which the economy can be stimulated to grow. This is especially pointed, seeing that 2015 offered the most favourable global and macro conditions, since the recession, for economic growth. Lack of growth is as much a sign of government failure as it of external conditions.
The challenge for any Jamaican Government this year is to maintain the fiscal programme and stimulate growth at the same time. The present government views the two objectives sequentially, fiscal discipline first then growth may follow. The Jamaica Labour Party has always held the view that fiscal discipline and growth can be achieved simultaneously. This is our commitment; this is the only sustainable way.
This year must be our year of change and prosperity. However, there cannot be change and prosperity without your participation. Your input on the national slate will determine whether you get a government that fulfills its core functions and creatively and resolutely solve problems or whether problems keep following us from year to year.
This year let us resolve to embrace the New Year for all the hopes and challenges it will offer. Let us resolve to take care of our children as this is the greatest honour to our parents. Let us resolve to exercise more for our health, to work harder for our wealth, to make the sacrifice for success, and to do more planning for progress. Let us also resolve not to be bystanders in the struggle for prosperity, this year. Let us resolve to be a part of the decision for change, the resolution for better. Let us make 2016 the year of our prosperity.