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Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago I invited this House and the nation to draw inspiration from the tremendous progress made during the single calendar year of 2010. I spoke of our success at side-stepping economic collapse when the global crisis hit us, halting our decade-and-a-half-long fiscal slide, and our success at stabilizing the Ship of State.

I invited you to consider what this meant about our innate ability, as a people, to face a crisis and to ‘fight the good fight’ until we emerged triumphant.

In the face of this year’s challenge – making the transition from stability to growth – I invited you to reflect on the stuff of which we are made, and to use this self-knowledge as a tool to spur us to victory.

I also reminded you of certain facts about our economy – the sheer size of our debt obligations, for example – and I asked you not to be intimidated or be discouraged by them, however grave they appear, but rather to understand and to come to terms with these facts, and to use them as a means of plotting a realistic route to victory.

It is not my intention to retrace all of those steps today, for I believe the country ‘gets it’. The country 'gets it' that Jamaica's problems are not skin-deep and that 'band-aid' solutions will meet neither the short-, medium- or long-term needs of our deserving and worthy family members. It has to be a game changing time for us.

Mr. Speaker, the country most definitely ‘gets it’ that we have run out of corners in which to hide and that Jamaica’s economy – despite the gains made – remains in need of deep structural reform. The road will not be easy, but we can do it. But first we must take the time to size-up and understand the dimensions of the challenge before us.

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