Portia Simpson Miller

The Journey Continues: A Time for Hope and National Unity - Jan. 5, 2012

Portia Simpson Miller
January 05, 2012— Kingston, Jamaica
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Your Excellency Sir Patrick Allen, our governor-general, and Lady Allen
Leader of the Opposition and former prime minister, the honourable Andrew Holness and Mrs. Holness
Former governor-general, most honourable Professor Sir Kenneth Horn and the most honourable Lady Horn
Former prime minister, the most honourable PJ Patterson
and the most honourable Edward Seaga and the most honorable Mrs. Seaga
The most honourable Denise Eldemire-Shearer
Visiting Presidents and Prime Ministers and their delegations
Our Chief Justice the honourable Mrs. Justice Zaila McCalla and Mr. McCalla
President of the Court of Appeal, the honourable Mr. Justice Seymour Panton and Mrs. Panton
Members of the clergy members
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of Parliament-Elect

And I'd like to recognize my friends from overseas:
Delegation headed by the vice president of Cuba and a team
Vice President Hernandez
My friend from the Cayman Islands, the honourable McKeeva Bush
Premier and his team
Representative from Turks and Caicos, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Canada

I must pause to recognize Justice Michael Tulloch, and I do so with him as a member of my family, my cousin coming in from Canada

All the specially invited guests

And forgive me if I recognize in a very special way my professors from the Union Institute & University that traveled from the United States of America to be here to give me support this afternoon:
My professors Dr. Marie Bogat—I ask them to stand
My favorite professor Dr. Michael Tredinnick
And Professor Angela Byles

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
Members of the media
My fellow Jamaicans at home and abroad

My Team, Our Tasks

My fellow Jamaicans, I am thankful to God for his guidance and strength; and to you the people of Jamaica for the faith and trust that you have placed in my team and me. I am deeply humbled that, once again, you have chosen me to lead our nation as it stands at a crossroads.

I want to recognize the presence of members of my family, headed by my husband, Errald. My brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, my cousins. All members of my family and my sister had traveled from the United States and my niece to be here to share this occastion and to represent those overseas.

My fellow Jamaicans, the team which I am privileged to lead is just as conscious as I am of the difficult times which confront us as we continue on our journey.

Started by our ancestors and our national heroes and the leaders that came after.

In our political history, it is a rare opportunity to be given a second chance to lead. This is a sobering experience. However, I have been strengthened by the experience having already gone through the first phase of the journey. I have emerged like the steel in “It Takes A Mighty Fire” which H. D. Carberry, our Jamaican poet, wrote about in his poems of discovery and self awareness. After being tested and tempered, I stand before you, today, a stronger and better person, prepared to be of service to my country and people.

Our Mandate: A Call to Action

I know that we face an awesome task. There is greater debt, increased poverty levels, and tighter fiscal space.

My administration will not engage in a blame-game. We will present the facts to the Jamaican people, based on rigorous analysis. Our approach must be to right the wrongs and insist on accountability. We must learn from our past, absorb the lessons and go forward. We only need to look back to confirm from where we have come, and to correct our errors and weaknesses as we look to the future. That is the way of progress.

The mandate which Jamaicans have given the People’s National Party on December 29 is a call to action. It is a signal from our people that we, the government, must earn their trust. It also gives us the opportunity to ease the burdens and the pressures of increasing poverty, joblessness and a deteriorating standard of living.

The mandate is a cry for us to restore hope.

The mandate calls on us to protect the good name of Jamaica, at home and in the eyes of the international community. Jamaica must remain for all, a “quality brand,” which gives citizens, from all walks of life, the opportunity to achieve their goals.

The Jamaican people have sent a clear message. They want a more accountable and transparent government which consults them; and, they should expect nothing less.


On behalf of my administration, I pledge that the rule of law will be paramount; and we will serve with humility.

I pledge that we will honour the faith and trust of the Jamaican people.

I pledge that we will reject governmental extravagance and be vigilant in eliminating corruption.

Our Approach

My fellow Jamaicans, the first order of business for the members of the Leadership Team will be to inform ourselves about the true state of the Jamaican economy.

Then we must act.

We remain committed to a vibrant partnership with all critical stakeholders; the local private sector; the public sector—who play a pivotal role in nation building; our international partners...

And I pause here to recognize some outstanding Jamaicans coming in from the United States--former Councilwoman Una Clarke and her daughter, now congresswoman, and the other officials from Congress and the Senate, here representing the government of the United States of America.

I want to recognize in particular--I want to mention--the International Monetary Fund, as we identify the basis for a new Agreement.

Jamaicans at the Centre

Ladies and gentlemen, our policies are based on the principle that the private sector is a main participant in shaping the economy of our country. However, in a time of crisis, government must act to stimulate growth and to restore confidence in the country’s ability to pay its way. Hence, in the short and medium term, we will use state resources to stimulate employment through the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme. Improvements will be made to critical areas, such as infrastructure and the environment, which are necessary to support economic growth. This will be done in a transparent and nonpartisan manner.

Let me say emphatically to our business community, at home and overseas…we will pursue a tight fiscal policy, reduce our debt to GDP ratio, maintain the key macro-economic fundamentals; and be very careful and prudent in our debt management.

We will do all of this while seeking to improve the social conditions of our people, including a serious reduction of the chronic state of unemployment, particularly among our young people.

My administration will work tirelessy, but while we try to balance the book, we balance people's live as well.

Now more than ever we must also make it easier to do business in Jamaica. Investors demand no less and our future social and economic prospects depend on it.

Our Administration will be marked by greater Openness in Government and frankness in our relations with the global community. This candidness will also be seen in the meetings of Parliamentary Committees, which Members of the Opposition will continue to chair; and, to which the media and the public will have full access.

CARICOM and International Partnerships

The government will also broaden and deepen our input into the Regional Integration Movement. We will restore our country's vibrant and vigorous participation.

One important agenda item will be to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice in its final appellate jurisdiction; and in this way, end judicial surveillance from London. We must fully repatriate our sovereignty, and we intend to carry through. In going forward, we invite the Opposition to follow through on the statements which it recently made that we were “not far apart” in our respective positions on this issue. Let us, together, in the interest of the Jamaican people, complete this aspect of Regional Integration within the life of this Administration.

Taking Responsibility

My fellow Jamaicans…it is time for us to build a gentler, more respectful and responsible society. My Administration will be marked by respect, responsibility and trustworthiness. The Jamaican people have elected us to lead, and we will lead. We will take responsibility for the society and we will be responsible to the society. I urge all Jamaicans to become more respectful of ourselves, more respectful of each other, more respectful of our senior citizens, more respectful of persons with disabilities, and more respectful of our national symbols and our national institutions.

We will seek to earn your respect by how we conduct ourselves and the nation’s business.

We will strive for more civil and respectful behaviour in our Parliament.

My fellow Jamaicans, ladies and gentlemen, children--as we continue on this journey, we will seek to make this country a nation of brothers and sisters, not one of rivals and victims.

This Administration will extend the hand of participation to all Jamaicans, as we all play a role in our development. Jamaicans in the Diaspora will be given every opportunity to contribute and to be respected equally as Jamaicans at home. As we journey together, I call on every Jamaicans to take responsibility for your lives and to be the best that you can be; be the best student; the best parent; the best teacher; doctor or nurse; politician, public servant or private business person; athlete or entertainer; farmer; designer, dressmaker, hairdresser or barber; and strive to improve yourselves by reinvesting in your personal development.

That is how people ultimately make progress. This government can provide the context and the opportunity. That is the partnership I wish to see.

Partnerships between the government and the people is not a matter of choice but an absolute necessity. This is critical if we are to extend our already world renowned power to true national, economic and social triumph. Absolutely nothing can make our magnificent country fail if we all put aside our differences and strive for our ultimate goals.

And I call upon all political parties, whether you're orange or green or blue or no identifiable color. And I repeat--absolutely nothing can make our magnificant country fail if we all put aside our differences and strive for our ultimate goals.

A Charge to My Generation

As we continue on our journey, this is the Jubilee Year of Jamaica's Independence, mentioned earlier by our governor-general. This 50th Anniversary year will be a time for reflection on the lessons of the past. As we celebrate our achievements as an independent nation, we need to complete the circle of independence. In this regard, we will, therefore, initiate the process for our detachment from the Monarchy to become a Republic with our own indigenous President, as Head of State.

I want to indicate--I love the Queen. She's a beautiful lady and apart from being a beautiful lady, a wise lady, and a wonderful lady--but I think time come.

This year, 2012, is also an Olympic Year, and our athletes are already poised to make us proud again, in this international arena. This, therefore, presents a unique opportunity for us to unite and work together as one people, and take full advantage of the prospects which will emerge as we invite the rest of the world to “Meet Jamaica” in London in July and August.

My fellow Jamaicans, those who have gone before blazed a trail of success, and have passed the baton to us. We are all conscious of the achievements of our National Heroes and heroine--I think her spirit must be smiling, our one national heroine--former leaders--and I'm proud for us to have two with us here this afternoon, the most honourable PJ Patterson, the most honourable Edward Seaga, and our former governor-general.

And so our former leaders and the thousands of other Jamaicans who have played their part, we must be conscious of their achievements. We are the proud beneficiaries and successors of their legacy.


And so my fellow Jamaicans, today we embark upon a new phase of our Jamaican journey. In the ‘Global Trade Winds’ of change we are not always at liberty to direct these winds but we must set our sails to pilot the Good Ship Jamaica through these turbulent economic waters to safe harbour.

In the face of these dramatic winds of change, I am calling for all hands to be on deck. I'm calling on all Jamaicans to travel with us on this journey. This nation requires the strength, the creativity, the innovation and the steely courage of every Jamaican man, woman, youth and child to place this vessel on a path to prosperity.

Today, I invite you to hold my hands, as I hold your hands. Today, I invite you to hold your neighbours’ hands. Let us form a strong bond of patriotic unity and let us move forward together on this journey into our collective future.

I believe that today marks a critical turning point in our journey. You must believe this with me and you must play your part in this process of transformation.

“It is shining time again.” It is our time to shine. It is Jamaica's time to shine. The challenges will not disappear overnight, but together we can overcome and we shall rise and we shall shine.

I begin this leg of our journey with an unfaltering belief in the Jamaican people. I invite you to join me in this confidence in ourselves as a people. Together, we shall rise and together with the guiding hand of the Almighty, I know we will succeed.

May God bless Jamaica. May God bless the people of Jamaica. May God bless you all. I love you. God bless you. Let us move together in peace and love, as one big Jamaican family, shaping the future of Jamaica together.

Thank you

Jamaica Gleaner. “Inaugural address of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.” YouTube video, 28:29. Jan. 6, 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nx9D_t33_CY

National Library of Jamaica. 2012. "Inaugural Address by The Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller. January 5, 2012." https://nlj.gov.jm/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/bn_simpson_miller_p_036.pdf