Today is not only the end of the year 1969, it is also the end of the decade of the 1960s.
It has been ten-year period of adventurous and spectacular activities for the whole world, and with sensational achievements, matched, step by step, with remarkable progress for us here, in Jamaica.
We began the decade with uncertainty. We began in 1960 with Jamaica involved in an experiment of a federal concept of nationhood, in which we tried to marry our national political ambitions with those of our friends in the English speaking West Indies.
The experiment failed… and we made the great step forward, by winning Independent status, on our own, in 1962.
Independence, for us, has been the stimulus, releasing new energy and … new ambitions. It has unleashed our nation’s energy in every field. We have been able to move forward rapidly and in spite of unpredictable events and problems beyond our control, we are well on our way to our targets.
The year (1969) has been remarkable in the rapid growth rate of our economic development. Plans and projects, which have been under active and searching examination by the Government, have begun to germinate and to be translated into reality.
The New Deal education programme, which aims at providing for Jamaicans the first real assurance of education for all, began to take shape and form in the actuality of secondary education expansion.
Tourism aimed at higher targets and methods. Industrial encouragement received enthusiastic response from local and overseas investors and these investors responded to the concept of share capital participation by the community at large.
There was evidence also of a national determination to share comfort and prosperity, and that was displayed in the increased awareness by more individuals and more organizations to involve themselves in social services to the people. There was concern about and efforts to bring all Jamaicans into the stream of progress.
The pressure of individual ambitions also saw more energy being generated towards production, and a greater awareness of the need for higher standards in the quality of our products.
Most of all, there was an air of urgency… which pre-destined a more active involvement in the nation building programme, which has to be accelerated in the next decade.
These are some of the ingredients which give the 1970s, and the decade it gives birth to, the promise of great achievements, and it is these qualities in our people and our programmes, which give me the confidence in our country, in spite of the many problems we face.
Economic reforms, which we projected last year, come into effect, as of tomorrow. The tax reliefs, which are embodied in these reforms, will mean more money for individuals’ personal expenditure a well as for savings and investment in the new and varied business opportunities being created.
1970 promises a substantial expansion in economic activities, as a result of implementation of development programmes in the industrial, agricultural and tourism sectors and expansion of services.
In the agricultural sector, the increase for the sugar industry, coupled with the benefits already being enjoyed, through the International Sugar Agreement, the guarantees given to the banana industry, the new agricultural incentives being considered and the expansion of agricultural production should revitalise the efforts of the farming community.
These and other developments, combined with higher wages and salaries for workers, mean greater spending power and will generate higher levels of economic activity and should provide higher standards of living for more of the Jamaican people.
In wishing you a Happy New Year, I do so, confident in the belief that we can maintain the momentum and the drive which energised our activities during the 1960s and that the new challenges and problems which are ahead can be met and overcome.
Let us therefore continue together to pool our energies and confidence, in carrying this country forward towards greater prosperity, to be shared by all our people.
Let that be our resolution, for 1970 and forever forward.
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