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VIDEO: Dr Peter Phillips - Gleaner Man of the Year

Published:Monday | January 25, 2016 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
Man of the Year Dr Peter Phillips walks through a guard of honour furnished by the Caribbean Maritime Institute at the Gleaner Honour Awards held at the Pegasus hotel yesterday.
Barbara Gloudon of the Little Theatre Movement: A well-respected veteran journalist, who has given much of her life to the development of a fantastic theatre movement.
Dzentra Stewart, co-chair, Kingston Chapter, Angels of Love Jamaica: A group of true angels making children happy in their last living moments.
Dr André Gordon at the Gleaner Honour Awards held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday.
Dr Peter Phillips, minister of finance and planning, holds aloft the Gleaner Honour Award for Man of the Year.
Honorees at The Gleaner Honour Awards pose along with Gleaner Managing Director Christopher Barnes (second left in the back row) and Douglas Orane (in the back row at right) who led the panel of judges, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Peter David Phillips, casually strode to the platform to accept The Gleaner Man of the Year Honour Award for 2015.

This was in stark contrast to the dogged sense of purpose that characterised his resolute approach to the management of the Jamaica's economy.

With a wide grin, Phillips held aloft, the symbol of the crowning moment of a challenging year, after receiving the prestigious award at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday.

But he was quite emphatic that the honour did not belong to him alone. "I accept the award with great appreciation but, quite frankly, it is an award to the Jamaican people," he declared.

Phillips also paid tribute to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and his Cabinet colleagues, whom he said supported the economic programme being pursued by his dedicated ministerial team.

It was a rewarding year for the man who wrestled with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) nearly three years ago to sign off on a four-year extended fund facility.

With focus now riveted on an 11th successive quarterly stamp of approval from the IMF, Phillips was the toast of the slate of high achievers, after his endorsement by the Douglas Orane-led panel of judges.

The usually composed minister basked in the ambience that was described as "a celebration of excellence" by Gleaner's Managing Director Christopher Barnes.

Alongside the multifaceted public servant, the impressive slate of nominees excelled in business, philanthropy, creativity and artistry.

Phillips, in the aftermath of his conquest, was extensively, "quizzed" by Barnes, who took on the job of a "journalist".

Urged to venture on a trek down memory lane, Phillips obliged. He divulged that the current portfolio was likely to be the most rewarding for him.

"It brings together many diverse elements of what can be accomplished, but it is a challenge that is far from complete," asserted Phillips. "Today's function gave me a feel of the enormous potential of Jamaicans."

He said The Gleaner's 2015 Honour Awards gala luncheon highlighted the magic and miracles of business innovation, voluntary social services, creativity and artistry of Jamaicans.

"If we can get it all right, we will become the greatest country on earth," said an uncharacteristically animated Phillips that elicited loud applause.


day of 'great hope'

It was a day of "great hope and optimism" for the man who has served in a range of ministries including Transport and Works, Health, National Security, and Finance Planning.

"I think that one of the things that we don't do in Jamaica is to show the extent of the progress that we have made as a country," he asserted.

"Take an institution like the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ)," said Phillips, who held the portfolio for electoral matters as leader of government Business in the House of Representatives.

"It was born to deal with a challenge that was eventually resolved to the extent that countries come to Jamaica to ask us to show them how to operate the election machinery," he added.

Phillips said that contrary to what obtained, Jamaica is no longer the cocaine capital of the Western Hemisphere.

He stressed that while murders remain troublesome, it can be taken down to levels that are typical of the most law-abiding countries of the world.

He suggested that there are substantial improvements in passes in mathematics, although there is still some way to go.

"I think that we have to avoid the tendency to look for the cloud behind every silver lining," Phillips declared.