Leaders push for a 2024 filled with possibilities
A new year plush with possibilities is the message for 2024, with Jamaica’s governor general, prime minister and leader of the Opposition looking towards 2024 with hope.
In his new year’s message for today, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen said the new year marks not just the beginning of another year, but also the dawn of a new chapter in our nation’s history, “a chapter which we will write together with commitment, compassion, courage and pride”.
“The past year has been a journey with its share of challenges. We faced the shadows of crime, violence, road accidents and other criminal activities which tested the resilience of our communities. But I hasten to remind you that darkness is only a precursor to dawn,” Allen said.
He said this year Jamaicans must commit ourselves to being the light that dispels darkness; to be steadfast in our resolve to experience a brighter future; and to be decisive in our actions.
“The future of our nation has to be firmly built on the bonds of trust, responsibility and accountability towards each other,” Allen said.
“In this new year, let us embrace the role of being our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, let us foster a culture where we do not just look out only for ourselves, but also look out for our neighbours, friends, and even strangers.”
He said our collective welfare hinges on our individual actions, “so let us choose empathy, kindness, understanding and rectitude as our guiding principles”.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding said while the challenges of the past year tested the resilience of our people, the new year brings with it a renewed sense of possibility.
“It is a time for reflection, and also an opportunity to commit to positive change in our own lives and in the life of our beloved Jamaica. It is clear to me that overcoming our serious challenges requires a collaborative approach that is energised by a renewed spirit of national unity. History demands that we now cast aside the divisive and selfish attitudes of the past which are preventing us from harnessing this capacity to solving the major issues that are holding us back.”
Golding pointed to challenges experienced by Jamaicans in 2023 â€” the increases of the cost of living “driven by higher food prices that have made everyday survival that much harder”; and the “demoralising scourge of violent crime which has continued to sap our national spirit, and poses significant obstacles for the development of our nation”.
He said our talents and creativity have allowed us to excel to greatness in many areas of life and made Brand Jamaica internationally recognised and admired.
And, “yet we continue to lag behind when it comes to building a strong, diversified and inclusive economy that is internationally competitive and resilient and creates opportunities for all our people to pursue their dreams of a better life, right here at home in the land of our birth.”
He said he is committed to working constructively and in good faith with all well-thinking Jamaicans, “regardless of political affiliation or other considerations that have too-long divided us, towards finding the ways and means to secure a better future for our country”.
“Our proud history of overcoming oppression and adversity is a testament to our ability to overcome challenges and emerge stronger. Now, more than ever, we must harness that strength to address the pressing issues that lie before us. I am confident that, working together, we can achieve progress in overcoming the formidable obstacles to the Jamaica we long to see,” Golding charged.
“Let us build common ground to create a society that values each and every Jamaican, regardless of background, wealth or any other factors. As we enter 2024, let this new year be a canvas on which we paint a beautiful vision of a Jamaica where every citizen can realise their full potential. It can be achieved if we commit ourselves to this great and noble task in a spirit on oneness in our shared destiny.”
For his part, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said God has given us the opportunity to see the sunrise on a new year, and we should rejoice with gratitude and embrace the 2024 canvas of possibilities, “to paint new and better pictures for our future with vibrant colours of our Jamaican creativity, dreams and aspirations, or complete the masterpieces we have started with optimism and determination”.
Pointing to some of the achievements of the Government in 2023, including on the crime and economic fronts, Holness said we will continue to build out the plan to sustainably secure Jamaica.
He pointed to the new Firearms Act, Bail Act, and amendments to the Offences Against the Person Act to create realistic deterrent penalties, along with use of the anti-gang law, and improved intelligence and policing operations which are having strong impact on reducing crime overall.
“In 2024, your Government will begin the build-out of a comprehensive social services response to violence,” he promised. “In 2024 my Administration will turn the machinery and resources of Government to focus on reducing violence, building our socio-emotional intelligence and human capital, strengthening our families, and promoting peace in our land.”
He said Jamaica has been able to undertake transformational projects and recover strongly from the pandemic, because his Administration has been good stewards of the economy.
“This year the economic focus will be on increasing economic growth by increasing productivity,” Holness said.
“I urge Jamaicans not to undervalue the importance of a strongly performing economy. I want to assure that the Government I lead is committed to ensuring that the benefits of a growing economy reach the people in a fair and just way. So, in 2024, we will further expand economic activity and make the necessary investments in human capital and security to support economic expansion. This will give us the ability to do more for you in 2024.”
All three committed to making Jamaica a nation at peace, in harmony, and with social and economic stability in 2024.