This is the word from Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness as he addressed the Protocolary Session of the Organization of American States, OAS, in Washington DC this morning.
He pointed out that for small developing countries like Jamaica, “achieving sustained economic growth has become the backbone of our economic policy and our development agenda - the gateway to prosperity for our citizens.”
But the Jamaican prime minister observed that: “the possibilities for us to attain this, lie in our ability to overcome myriad challenges ranging from socio-economic, environmental, trade-related, and financial pitfalls, which we continue to encounter at every turn.”
Holness noted: “ a central tenet of Administration’s focus is to achieve five percent (5%) growth in four (4) years, or as we say, five-in-four. We believe that there can be no prosperity without growth and no development without prosperity.”
However, he admitted: “to achieve five-in-four, we must overcome these challenges, which are now compounded by the vagaries of climate change which not only threatens the pace of our economic development, but our very existence in many instances.”
Hence, “While we strive to attain high levels of economic growth, our efforts are being undermined by the deleterious effects of climate change,” Holness lamented.
Turning to the high cost of energy, The Jamaican prime minister said: “among the underlying restrictions which undermine our sub-region’s competitiveness and growth is the high cost associated with energy.”
To combat this, he said, “Jamaica has taken a deliberate approach to diversifying our energy source, ensuring that renewables, particularly wind and solar, become a greater part of our energy mix.”
“We are also examining the prospects of including bio-fuels, a sector which I believe has tremendous potential,” Holness informed.
He pointed out that “The Government is also making every effort to ensure that our refinery – PetroJam – is upgraded to being one of the most modern in the region, equipped to supply not just Jamaica’s energy needs but the energy needs of the sub-region and beyond.”
Holness noted that “Jamaica, with the support of the OAS Secretariat, will host the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) next October 2019, as a demonstration of our commitment to developing renewable sources of energy and addressing the high cost of energy.”
Turning to the matter of criminal activity and its impact on small developing states, Holness pointed to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons as “another issue that is creating serious challenges to development and which is inextricably linked to the worrisome phenomena of organized crime and corruption across the region.”
“We have made tremendous strides as a nation in our fight against illegal weapons, but I take this opportunity to urge the OAS to continue to strengthen its support for member states to combat this illicit trade which threatens the very fabric of our societies. It is rapidly leading to the destruction of the many gains made by the countries of the Americas,” declared the Jamaican prime minister who is also the Chairman of CARICOM.
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