Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, claims her government is doing all it can to reduce crime and make criminals pay for their indiscretions, which are tarnishing the country’s image.
“We are not pleased with this aspect of our country’s reputation, not least for the reason that we cannot allow miscreants and those who do not share our passion for the good and the positive to hold us hostage,” Simpson-Miller said in a speech delivered by Jamaican senator, A.J. Nicholson, at the Canadian Club of Toronto.
“My government has been firm in the approach it’s taking that it will not tolerate anti-social behaviour of the depraved kind that we have seen and that our country will not be a haven for criminals. We will work to protect our citizens, the young and the aged especially.”
Simpson-Miller, who was due to speak at the luncheon during her first official visit since becoming Jamaica’s seventh prime minister last January, was forced to cut the trip short and return home last week Tuesday night because of Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged parts of the country.
The Prime Minister said Jamaica, in its efforts to strengthen its police capabilities and the justice system, has been fortunate to have received significant external help in its crime fighting strategies from developed countries, including Canada.
“We hope that progress in the social and economic spheres will make criminality less attractive to those who would otherwise be disposed in that direction,” said Simpson-Miller.
Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, invited his counterpart to Canada to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Jamaica is also celebrating its 50th independence anniversary this year.
“We are a nation on a mission, determined to secure that common good which all nations seek and to seize the opportunities presented by the 21st century world,” said Simpson-Miller. “Over the years of our independence, we have done it with trending economic models to varying degrees, we have sought to move our country from its dependence on one sector of the economy and we have at various points increased our openness by developing commercial relations with countries all over the world.”
Simpson-Miller said Jamaica’s world-class products – Appleton Rum and Blue Mountain Coffee – and its tourism brands, including Sandals and the SuperClub hotel chains, are reminders of the country’s ability to compete globally. She also said tourism, which is the country’s largest foreign earner, has grown from a priority inclusion industry reserved for a few privileged travellers, to a multi-billion dollar industry that welcomed over three million tourists in 2011.
“Tourism is an integral part of our economy and vital to our development,” said Simpson-Miller. “Jamaica continues to hold its own in the tourist market, welcoming close to 1.5 million visitors between January and September this year, which is an increase of over three per cent over the comparative period last year. I am pleased that there is a sustained increase in Canadian tourist stop-overs.”