I want to wish each and every one of you - every Belizean child, woman and man - a happy new year and best wishes for a better life in 2008. May we all prosper by working together to achieve better things for all of us.
Let us begin the New Year by reminding ourselves of this: We are one community and we can only prosper if the whole community prospers.
To achieve this we must first believe in our community, we must believe in Belize. This means that we believe that Belize exists, not just as a state with defined boundaries, but as a nation that embraces all Belizeans as one people with a common destiny.
Only because enough Belizeans came to believe in themselves, to believe in Belize, was it possible to overcome tremendous odds and become an independent nation with security and territorial integrity.
That generation of Belizeans who fought for political independence believed in Belize. This present generation must also believe in Belize. Let us therefore reach inside ourselves and release that spirit of true nationalism, which strives to eliminate economic and social disparity among the citizens of Belize. There are many reasons why we should.
The overwhelming success of our debt restructuring significantly improved our fiscal and economic performance and has given us a new beginning.
It was not easy. This year Hurricane Dean affected the northern district destroying 95% of the papaya crop and 15% of the sugar yields destroying homes and infrastructure all to an estimated cost of 200 million dollars.
But this did not stop our march to progress. The economy is on the rebound. The papaya industry is fast being rehabilitated and will be in full production within a few months.
Substantial investments are being made in the oil industry, in caged fish farming, in ethanol production co-generation of electricity from bagasse and in the tourism industry. Our economy is therefore set to continue growing.
Our investment in education is beginning to pay dividends. There is far less truancy. Far more young people equipped for decent jobs. Far more students transitioning to high school, Sixth Form and University. The number of Belizean students passing seven or more CXCs has literally skyrocketed.
The NHI rollout is moving ahead. Quality and affordable health care is coming to the people, irrespective of their ability to pay. We can provide universal primary health care to all Belizeans. And we will.
For nearly ten years we have implemented policies and programs to reduce poverty. We must maintain as a priority initiatives to safeguard those among us who are least able to protect themselves.
We will continue to provide land for building homes, farming and development.
Those who instill fear and intimidation, practice victimization and threaten to take away land and jobs from hard working people should be rejected.
The world around us is choking from global warming and pollution. We have witnessed the breakdown of the system of rules and moral behaviour and a decline of civility. We have seen the apparently inexorable march of materialism and selfishness.
In such a harsh global environment it is easy to lose hope, it is easy to despair. But it would be wrong to do so. For it is in such a time that we must summon up the spirit of resistance and face all our troubles with faith and confidence. Let us be positive, and optimistic in the face of all adversity, because we believe in Belize, because we believe in humanity, because we believe in God.
Let us take pride in the great international success of Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective's WATINA, a recording that won first prize in world music in 2007. Let us celebrate the fact that the music was created by the Garinagu of Belize and engineered by a first generation Belizean.
We take pride too in the achievements of the bi-partisan effort of the past few years as we work together as one to remove the Guatemalan claim to our territory and all the negative effects it has had on our security and on our development.
The people of Belize will have the opportunity to decide whether or not we submit the dispute to the International Court of Justice.
We have secured funds for a major upgrade of sugar roads, infrastructural development in the banana belt in the South and for Rural Development Projects throughout the country.
We all suffer the effects of rising global oil prices, which caused other goods as well to rise in price Now we have a scheme which increasingly guarantees the necessary oil supplies on fair and sustainable terms, provides energy security, and allows for social sector initiatives to benefit the poorest sectors of our countries. Petrocaribe is thus a model of cooperation between developing countries, guided by the principles of solidarity, special and differential treatment.
Just as to survive in the international arena our only hope is working together with all our neighbours for an order based on peace, fairness and law, so too our only prospect for reversing the trend towards violence and incivility at home is by uniting nationally to change the culture of selfishness and intolerance to a culture of mutual respect and solidarity.
Let us be inspired by the words of the great Brazilian educator Paulo Freire who urges us to "Live life as a process - live to become."
By continuing to reform our system of Governance, we can make Belize a more tranquil haven of democracy.
You, the Belizean people have made the call. We respond.
You will soon have the opportunity to decide who you wish to represent you in the House of Representatives. You will decide your Government in free and fair elections.
We will also be presenting you with a suggested model for an elected Senate. And you will decide whether you want to have a Senate elected by you the people.
We are living in exciting times. And there is hope. There is hope because there are good people everywhere who are prepared to stand up and struggle for what is right and just. There is hope because there is love in humankind and the power of love will predominate over the forces of hate.
That is the Belize we aspire to and believe in. Let us therefore come together as Belizeans and make one national New Year's resolution: To believe in ourselves; to believe in Belize.
For we are living in a good country. It is for us to transform our world into one of peace, order and justice.
To make it so, we shall fight and we shall win.
We wish all Belizeans a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
by Said Musa, Prime Minister of Belize