Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to welcome you – the members of the Diplomatic Corps, to the Office of the Prime Minister on the occasion of the 12th renewal of Diplomatic Week.
I am delighted that we have such a wonderful turnout with many non- resident representatives taking the time to join us on this special occasion, and extend my very best wishes to all of you for a New Year full of peace and joy. I ask that you convey warm greetings from the Government and people of Jamaica to your respective Heads of State and Government.
The past year has been an eventful one in Jamaica and around the world. On 29th December 2011 Jamaica held its 16th General Elections since attaining Universal Adult Suffrage in 1944.
The elections resulted in a peaceful transfer of power from the ruling party to the Opposition.
The peaceful electoral process and smooth transition of power attest to the maturity of our democracy in this country. We thank the international community and civil society groups in Jamaica for their role as observers.
I am also thankful for the many letters and calls of congratulations and good from Heads of State and Government around the world.
In Jamaica, we do cherish our long democratic tradition, and value and respect the institutions of government, the media, civil society and the people of Jamaica who ensure that our democracy remains strong and healthy.
Events around the world have reaffirmed that we cannot and must not take our democracy for granted.
The Euro-zone crisis is currently a source of major concern. We look forward to a positive outcome and remain optimistic that Europe will resume its role as an engine of competitiveness and economic growth. Jamaica has a vital stake in a strong and stable Europe that will drive productivity and job creation far beyond its borders.
Jamaica continues to suffer the effects of the global financial and economic crisis. The people of Jamaica need real solutions and tangible opportunities for personal development and for advancement.
The initiatives which we propose to undertake include:-
– a realistic, meaningful and sustainable job creation programme;
– further improvements to our health sector;
– new focus on early childhood education;
– measures to further reduce crime;
– more efficient and effective provision of services at the local and community levels; and
– the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to create jobs, improve the quality of services and increase opportunities for the empowerment of our citizens.
My administration will look to you, our friends and partners, for assistance to promote progress in these areas and to stimulate growth.
We do recognise the invaluable roles the governments and international organisations represented here have played over the years in providing much needed Development Assistance to Jamaica.
For this we say thank you. We know, given the challenges in the global economy, this has been done, at times, with some sacrifice.
We look forward, nonetheless, to a continued and strengthened partnership, on the basis of a shared vision which balances the books while balancing people’s lives.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
This year – 2012, is a special one for the people of Jamaica. On the 6th of August, we will celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of our Independence. It will be a time of reflection as well as a time of happiness for the Jamaican people.
I invite you to celebrate our Jubilee anniversary with us as a time for renewal and an opportunity for breakthrough into a brighter and more prosperous future.
Those of you who have been here for some time will certainly have recognised that our greatest natural resource is our people. We are known for our creative talents, our tremendous accomplishments in sports, and our resourcefulness and resilience. These qualities and accomplishments have kept the Jamaican flag flying high and have allowed us to compete with the best in the world and if I may say sometimes even getting ahead.
In this our Jubilee year, we recognise the contributions of our ancestors, our national heroes and heroine, and celebrate the significant strides we have made in building our nation. We have accomplished a great deal in every aspect of national life and are poised to move decisively to consolidate our independence. This will, of necessity, be a national effort requiring the resolve of all Jamaicans. It will also require the goodwill, cooperation and support of the international community. I invite you to make this journey with us.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
In closing, let me once again extend my very best wishes to each of you, and through you, to the Governments and peoples that you represent. Together, there is much that we can do and much that we must do.
I am confident that through our joint efforts, we will succeed in strengthening the ties of co-operation and friendship that unite us, in promoting progress and better standards of living, as we recognise and affirm our faith in the dignity and worth of every man, woman, and child.
May God bless you.