HARDLY anyone will disagree that 2012 was a year of sharp contrasts for Jamaica. On the positive side, we celebrated with pride and joy the 50th anniversary of our thrust into self-government, the conquests of our athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic games in London, and, to be fair to the police, an increased zeal to deal with corruption within their ranks, and an encouraging drop in murders which we hope will continue this new year and beyond.
On the negative side, we watched as the Government continued to display signs of inertia — except in the case of outfitting Cabinet ministers with new, expensive motor vehicles. At the same time, the Administration — fearing that it will lose political capital — is obviously vascillating in relation to the measures that must be implemented in order to ink a financing deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, we have been told, has been coming under a lot of pressure to shuffle her already too large Cabinet. She would be wise to yield to those demands and do more — cut the size of the executive.
These are issues which will definitely affect the country this year — a year that no doubt will be very tough, particularly for the fact that our economy remains sluggish and those of the United States and most of Europe continue to struggle.
There will be very little wiggle room for us, and, try as it may, the Government will be unable to lift the majority of Jamaicans out of poverty.
As we have stated in this space before, the agreement with the IMF will bring only minimal relief.
However, no one can deny the fact that the really great thing about a new year, despite its uncertainties, is that it is a time of hope that offers opportunity for renewal and making new starts.
Our hope is that the global economic recession will finally bottom out, resulting in more significant improvements in our tourism and foreign direct investment that, most definitely, will create jobs.
We also hope that the Government will finally equip itself with a level of moral conscience and lead by example as it asks the Jamaican people to again make sacrifices for the betterment of the country.
But even as we anticipate that difficult political transformation, we are quite aware that the resilience of the Jamaican people will serve as our greatest advantage. We have as a perfect example, the fact of our indomitable Jamaican spirit growing into an internationally recognised and respected brand that served us particularly well last year, especially at the London Olympics, and from which our tourism industry is now benefiting.
That we have been subject to adversity for so long, yet remain among the most hospitable people in the world is most commendable, and that, we believe, has contributed to our people excelling at home and abroad.
So, as we begin 2013 with hope for a better country, we urge all well-thinking Jamaicans to insist that our leaders place the national interest above those of their political parties.
In addition, we all need to accept our fair share of responsibility for the development of our country. For example, parents must take the job of raising children seriously, as our anti-crime efforts will come to naught if so many of our children continue to grow up without guidance, or material and emotional support.
And now, more than ever before, we need to be our brother's keeper.
We wish for Jamaica a most peaceful and prosperous 2013.