Thank you Master of Ceremonies, Ms Rosamond Brown
Dr the Honourable Andrew Wheatley, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology
The Member of Parliament for the area- and I’m not going to recognize you as minister today, The Honourable Desmond McKenzie- because you’re here in your capacity as Member of Parliament and one of Mr Seaga’s sons which would make you my brother.
Dr Bahado-Singh, chairman of Petrojam Limited
Mr Floyd Grindley, General Manager
Mr Russell Hadeed, Chairman of Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica and other members of the board
Reverend Dorothy Grant who gave us the lovely prayer
Heads of agencies and departments
Members of the private sector
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
And of course our honoured guests The Most Honourable Edward Phillip George Seaga and Mrs Seaga.
The Most Honourable Edward Seaga is a father of the Jamaican nation in every sense.
A part from being the sole surviving member of the committee that framed our constitution, there is scarcely an institution that defines Jamaica, that Edward Seaga was not a part of. Either in its conceptualization, it’s initiation, it’s implementation or in somehow modifying, so Jamaica that we know today, would have the fingerprints all over it of Edward Seaga and I don’t propose to list them because they would take up the entire programme but if you stop to consider that the development of the waterfront, if you consider our stock exchange, if you consider our currency, its Edward Seaga again, the Jamaica Social Development Commission, The Heart NTA; one of the agencies that I hold so dear, culture – just Jamaican culture, the institutionalization of it, the creation of the JCDC, so many things Edward Seaga has created.
I stand here humbled and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to learn from a founding father of our nation. So this very small gesture today Mr Seaga is our way of saying we love you, we cherish the work that you’ve done and we have to find more ways to symbolize it and so putting your name on a building is just one way of giving that symbol but it is such an important thing to do because generations will come and the wind of time will blow away the memories of the great things you have done. So, we have to leave markers behind for generations to come and see and appreciate the value.
You’ve asked me Mr Seaga if I was going to make any major announcements today and I’m not going to make any major announcements but maybe I will suggest some things that are likely to happen and I think that we should find a marker in our society on which your name is etched that will ensure that generations to come will be exposed to it, will ask who is Edward Seaga, will be stimulated to go and do the research but more importantly a marker that exemplifies your vision because more than anything else you’re a visionary and your vision is very broad.
You know what they say about dreamers, so people who are dreamers their eyes are closed but people who are visionaries, their eyes are open; they’re seeing it and you had Mr Seaga, this vision of a modern Jamaica. A Jamaica that is progressing, that is prosperous, a Jamaica that is free and independent, a Jamaica that is industrious and enterprising, a Jamaica that can stand shoulder to shoulder with any developed country in the world and we are slowly inching towards that vision and I would like to think Mr Seaga that you would be so pleased of the government of which you were a part of a decade or two /three decades ago, that your government is moving the needle in substantial ways towards achieving that vision of Jamaica. Mr Seaga we will find the appropriate marker, the appropriate symbol of your contribution to Jamaica and make it in your honour.
I want to say in just a few words about Jamaica’s energy security. We have taken a deliberate approach to diversifying our energy source and you would know that we have significantly increased the level of usage of LNG but we’ve also diversified in renewables as well and the government is working assiduously to ensure that renewables in particular wind and solar play a greater part of Jamaica’s energy mix. Mr Seaga has always maintained that we should use not just solar and wind but we should use bio-fuels as well and I know Mr Seaga, that you are big on the Leucaena which is a plant that grows very fast and that is an excellent source of biofuels and so I’m giving a directive to the minister that he should pay more attention to developing the biofuels sector because the security of our energy, a large part of it yes, is that we need to have our refinery upgraded so that we can be more efficient in producing the fuels we need at the quality that they are needed but more importantly Jamaica has this amazing thing called location and we should be able to be producing the refined fuels here to supply all the ships that pass through this well-defined location of Jamaica. So, there’s a great opportunity in having our refinery upgraded and the government is doing everything possible including making financial commitments towards upgrading the refinery
Of course it is a complexed issue, it has a significant foreign relation dimension which I will not go into today but I want to assure the country that the government is doing everything possible to ensure that our refinery is upgraded to being one of the most modern refineries in the region to supply not just our energy needs but the energy needs of the region, our energy security – yes we’re significantly on upgrading the refinery but I want Jamaicans to understand that there is greater security in ensuring that our energy mix is diversified and that we’re doing everything possible to ensure that diversification.
I would say that we’re now at approximately 18% of our electricity needs being generated by renewables. I had given the minister a target of 30% and we’re on track to being able to supply 30% of our electricity needs and that would ensure that Jamaica has real energy security because if we were to ever return to the days of the volatile oil prices and by the way the volatility is not just subject to movements in oil prices but LNG prices are also subject to that kind of volatility so the best way to ensure against volatility is to have your energy being locally generated and it is best when it is generated by the God given natural resources whether it is sun, whether it is wind or whether it is Leucaena in biofuels, that is where we’re heading to.
Ladies and gentlemen, again it is my great privilege and I feel so honoured to be in your presence sir and I want you to accept this as our small token of saying how much we love you and appreciate you but look out for the bigger one to come.