My fellow Jamaicans at home and abroad, in this our 50th anniversary as a nation, I greet you with the sunny optimism that a Jamaican new year brings, with all its prospects of personal fulfillment and happiness. I hope that this will be your year of achievement and personal satisfaction and that the Lord will, indeed, enlarge your borders.
We have yet again demonstrated to the world our unshakeable commitment to the democratic process, for the sixteenth time last Thursday, we reinforced to the international community our absolute commitment to the rule of law and to electoral democracy. Something we can be proud of as we celebrate Jamaica 50.
We have, in fact, strengthened our democratic mechanisms to the point where we have one of the most enviable electoral systems in the world. This has been the result of significant bipartisan cooperation as well as pivotal input from civil society. The message we sent to the world last Thursday, amidst turmoil and struggles in other countries, is that democracy is alive and well in Jamaica in spite of the economic problems we face.
The election is now behind us and we have to move forward as one people. This year we will face great challenges as a nation. However, I have always maintained that as a people we have the capacity to turn our adversities in to opportunities.
The global recession has had a devastating effect on the economy and society generally. Specifically, it has had an even greater impact on the fixed income earner and pensioners, on the unemployed, on the recent school leaver and graduate, and on the poor and indigent.
It has been a very trying time even for the working masses of the country. At the same time the government was faced with the formidable and immanent imperative of restructuring our economy and systems of governance against this backdrop of a global recession and the negative impact on the lives of people locally.
From Britain to Greece, governments have had to confront this situation. Comparatively, we have done well in reaching stability and setting the foundation for growth. The new government will face these challenges as well. We have left a good foundation on which they can build, we await the solutions they will bring to the table.
I want to see the best for my country and my people. We must not let political interests divide or distract the country from building a sound and robust economy, and a fair and just society. We will be vigilant and unwavering in defending and advancing the best interest of the Jamaican people as we face the challenges of the coming years.
As we enter a new year, let us be hopeful and optimistic as a people. Hardships there are but the land is green and the sun shineth. Let us focus on our families. No matter how difficult things are economically let us in this New Year commit to keeping the family together and our children in school. Let us each commit to being responsible in our decisions about our children, our vocation and our communities. The sum of our individual decisions is the collective outcome of the Nation.
Today is another step in our personal journey of life. Let us set higher goals for ourselves and make the commitment to be faithful to those goals. Let us keep the flame of hope burning in our hearts that Jamaica will grow and prosper for all. I want to thank all Jamaicans for your support and reaffirm my commitment to you and the Nation.
It is a great honour and pleasure serving you. I wish for you and your family God’s richest blessing, peace, love and prosperity in 2012.