Every thinking Jamaican knows that 2012 will most definitely be a tough year economically. There is so little wiggle room that even with the utmost creativity and the most optimistic projections, growth will be anaemic.
The debt disaster in which we have found ourselves will make it virtually impossible to lift our people out of the perennial poverty which is the lot of too many.
The promised renegotiation of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), if we are successful, will bring only minimal relief.
And yet, the really great thing about a New Year and its uncertainties is that it is a time of hope that offers opportunity for renewal and making new starts.
There will be economic hard times, but if the world economic recession begins to taper off, we might see big improvements in tourism and foreign direct investment that could bring jobs. This is all within the realm of possibility, given some favourable, if tentative, signs in the United States economy.
Moreover, if the promised JEEP (Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme) comes to fruition — it depends on renegotiation with the Chinese — we could see some relief going to the large number of jobless Jamaicans, some of whom have not known what it is to work in many years. This is also possible because the Chinese have proven to be our great friends.
But whatever assistance will come to us from outside sources, our fate lies in our hands, and it is what we do as Jamaicans that will take us to the mountain top.
Thankfully, it is here that we have our greatest advantage for bringing value added to our development thrust. Our indomitable Jamaican spirit, which has metamorphosed into an internationally recognised and respected brand, is what will make 2012 a truly special year for us.
Ours is a culture of surviving even the greatest odds. Survival is written into our DNA. The Jamaican people — audacious, creative, courageous, aggressive yet generous — have excelled everywhere they have called home.
The real challenge is to make that brand work for us in our island nation the way it has worked for others. We can think of two events that right now should engage our minds in a powerful way.
First, the celebrations marking our 50th anniversary as an Independent nation will provide us a unique opportunity to show off all that we are worth to the world, while laying the basis for the Jamaica we want to create for the next 50 years.
Second, the 2012 Olympics in London, England, is of great significance beyond athletics. It is perhaps more than just coincidence that our 50th year of Independence is unfolding while the Olympics is taking place in the very country from whose ‘ownership’ we have emerged. What a confluence of circumstances! This summer we should aspire and plan to bring colonialism in reverse to the Mother Country, through mighty collaboration with the Jamaican diaspora there.
It might be no accident of fate that the People’s National Party (PNP), which fought so hard for our Independence, is being given the reins of leadership as we start the next 50 years of our Independence.
Let us make the most of it and give the world something it has never seen bef