The Gleaner, North America Jan 05, 2022 - Feb 04, 2023

THE MONTHLY GLEANER | JANUARY 5 - FEBRUARY 4, 2023 | | NEWS 2 Going forward with renewed confidence MY FELLOW Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora, I greet you warmly withmy wish that you will have a bright and prosperous NewYear, filled with opportunities and the hope of a satisfying future. As we think about the year ahead, I invite you to pause to renew your minds, hopes, aspirations, dreams, and concepts of where you are now, and what you hope to become in the immediate and distant future. Starting now, there is much‘living’ to do as we constantly fight against corruption, greed, malice, and hatred; rejecting them as misguided approaches to progress. We renew our fight: i) Against the disintegration of the moral fabric of our society, and seek, ii) To replace antisocial behaviour, hostility, and immodesty with expressions of propriety, decency, and civility. Today, we open a new page in our lives. I encourage everyone to renew their trust in each other and enter 2023 with hope and confidence. We cannot change the past, but we can learn from our mistakes, and work on the present to ensure a more pleasing future. • We should make the best use of our time andmake every moment count. • We must be the change we want to see and espouse the solutions that will help us to deal with the challenges we will face. • As we venture into the unknown, we can daily find: o Strength to press on even when it gets hard o Boldness to stand firmeven though the heavens fall o Joy to smile – even on bad days, and, o Faith to remain focused when the way looks dark. We will be called on to make crucial decisions in various areas of our lives that will affect our future, at a personal or national level. The Greek philosopher Socrates observed that “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” We can resolve to make this the year of transition to: • Securing good health • Unity and peace • Strong families • Clean environments and solutions to combat the effects of climate change • Mental, emotional and physical strength, and, • Increased reliance on the grace and power of the Almighty. I trust that this New Year will bring each one of you reasons to go forward and celebrate life with renewed confidence. Lady Allen joins me in wishing you a NewYear filled with inner peace, love, and hope. May God bless you and Jamaica, land we love. SIR PATRICK ALLEN Governor General Let’s look towards 2023 with a spirit of hope WE GIVE God thanks for sparing our lives to see 2023, and we give thanks for the lives of loved ones and other great Jamaicans who transitioned last year. We embrace the New Year with optimism and positive energy, knowing that our earnest efforts will determine the success we make of the time given to us. We have been earnest in our efforts in the past year in controlling crime, particularly murders, and improving public order. Last year, we took a major step in deterring the procurement, possession, trafficking, and use of guns by passing a new Firearms Act, which has transformed the legislative framework around legal and illegal guns in Jamaica. The security forces are increasing their surveillance, intelligence, and operational capabilities to detect and recover illegal firearms and those using or possessing them. In the next fewmonths, we will take amendments to Parliament to significantly increase the penalty for murder to over 30 years, we will streamline the bail process with the passage of a new Bail Act, a new Corrections Bill will be tabled, a Fingerprint Bill will be tabled, and an Enhanced Security Measures Bill will be tabled as well. This year, a clear message will be sent to violence producers that law enforcement and the criminal justice system is not a revolving door. Already, we are seeing the impact of the use of emergency powers, the new Firearms Act, and various joint enforcement operations on murder numbers. We were able to reduce the number of murders and save more lives in November and December 2022, thereby significantly bringing down the murder rate at the end of 2022. I should also mention that the new Road Traffic Act will come into effect on February 1. This will go a far way in bringing order to our roadways. Motorists are encouraged to address their outstanding tickets at the courts before the new law takes effect. As we bid farewell to 2022 and welcome the dawn of the NewYear 2023, there are many things for which we as a nation can be proud andmany things for which we must be thankful. Jamaica has staged a remarkable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic despite the global economic shock from the war in Ukraine, continuing supply-chain bottlenecks, and inflation. Our economic output is now higher than pre-COVID levels; we are experiencing record low unemployment; business and consumer confidence is high; and we are seeing an unprecedented level of investor interest in Jamaica, in areas such as tourism, energy, housing, logistics and infrastructure. We can be particularly proud that we have achieved this economic recovery while remaining steadfast on the path of prudent and responsible fiscal management. Our relentless focus on economic recovery over the past two years has no doubt been very successful. However, it has unavoidably resulted in the diversion of resources and focus fromother critical areas such as secondary road repairs and municipal waste collection. Rest assured, however, that the Government is redoubling efforts in these areas. Later this year, we will confirm the new development order for the Corporate Area and announce plans to redevelop town centres in all parishes to rationalise settlement in Jamaica in an orderly, sustainable, and resilient manner. As we recover from the pandemic and return to normalcy, let us not abandon caution as there is always a lingering threat or consideration of a spike in COVID-19 cases or some new virus emerging. The two-year disruption in routine has had untold and yet-to-beunderstood impacts on mental and physical health and social behaviours. Pay attention to your mental health this year. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you find yourself overwhelmed, depressed, unable to cope or just angry. Talk to someone. Make a resolution this year to be gentler with one another, kinder to each other, more forgiving and more loving. We welcome 2023 and thank God for His blessings and for shepherding Jamaica through a very challenging 2022. We look forward to all the opportunities the New Year presents with a spirit of hope, optimism, determination and faith. ANDREW HOLNESS Prime Minister Recommit to upholding the values on which our great nation was founded TO ALL Jamaicans, at home and in the diaspora, I wish you a Happy New Year. The year 2022 was very difficult for many Jamaicans. Our people have endured a major spike in the cost of living, without much help to cushion the crisis. We have seen levels of violent crime that have us living in fear and sap the hope of our people. We experienced restive months in recent times, with the uncertainties among our public sector workers as to their pay arrangements. Repeated states of emergency (SOEs) have been declared across various parishes, as the Government uses them as an ongoing crime-fighting strategy. This has been going on for five years now, but the murder rate in the country has continued to rise. By allowing extended periods of detention of any person without charge or access to the courts, an SOE suspends many of the most fundamental rights and freedoms of our citizens. The Supreme Court has on two occasions ruled against the Government in its recent use of the SOEs, and the Government’s appeals of those rulings have not yet been heard. With this pall of constitutional doubt hanging over the Government’s use of SOEs, it has been my solemn duty not to support any extensions of these measures. It is my hope for 2023, that the Government will embrace a more collaborative approach to address the issue of crime. Jamaica needs a balanced approach to our national security crisis, using both tactical law enforcement and well-designed social intervention. The police have said that there are approximately 300 violence producers. If that is so, our efforts should be geared towards urgently putting in place a legal procedure for targeting them, without infringing on the basic rights of millions of ordinary Jamaicans. We also need to prioritise programmes that reaffirm the positive values and attitudes on which a strong nation can be built. We need to invest in early childhood development by providing support for weak family structures and the raising of children in vulnerable households. We must raise the minimum wage and make it a liveable wage, so that parents can support their families without enduring the deprivations of poverty. We cannot allow the crisis in our education system to continue. Our schools lack basic infrastructure and resources to enhance the learning experience of students. Hundreds of students are still suffering from learning loss due to the pandemic, some of whom have not been able to return to school. We must invest in raising standards in basic and primary schools across the board, so that they become world-class. This will plug the pipeline of youths who have been failed and abandoned by the system and end up embracing a culture of violence and wreaking havoc on our society. Civil servants are the backbone of our public systems. They deserve to be adequately compensated for the work that they do, and our national development goals require a competent and motivated public sector. In 2022, we celebrated our 60th anniversary of political Independence from colonial rule, yet we are going into 2023 and the King remains our head of state, and the Privy Council remains our final appellate court. Let us not pay lip service to these issues of national importance. We must decolonise these remaining aspects of our governance by acceding to the Caribbean Court of Justice as our final court of appeal and becoming a republic with a Jamaican as our head of state. We must respect the remarkable strength and resilience of the Jamaican people. I know it is hard, but I encourage you to keep the faith. Time come for us to put people at the centre of governance by developing policies geared towards social inclusion, equality, and a better quality of life for all Jamaicans. In 2023, let us recommit to upholding the values and principles of integrity on which our great nation was founded. Happy New Year, Jamaica. May God bless you all, and bless Jamaica, land we love. MARK GOLDING Leader of the Opposition New Year’s messages THE FOLLOWING are edited excerpts from New Year’s messages from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and Opposition Leader Mark Golding.