It’s always difficult to sum up a whole year – the ups and downs, the triumphs and challenges. One thing is for sure, 2011 has definitely been eventful.
On a cloudy but dry day way back on Thursday 3rd March the people of Wales voted overwhelmingly to give further law-making powers to the National Assembly. It was the day an old nation came of age. The ‘Yes’ vote was not an answer to all of our problems, but it was a show of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of doing.
Away from the political world there was one shining event that raised all our spirits – the performance of Wales at the Rugby World Cup. All of us in Wales were with them every step of the way. Every tackle, every kick every try tested our nerves every step of the way.
Ultimately our hopes were dashed and we didn’t get to raise the Webb Ellis trophy in triumph, but for six weeks the team united Wales as one in pride.
However for many, this year will be remembered for the tough economic times we find ourselves in. Wales is not immune to the global climate. We have seen job losses, a squeeze on the incomes of families and continued economic uncertainty. I want to reassure everybody that the Welsh Government’s focus for 2012 can be summed up in two words – the economy.
We are doing all we can to use the levers we have to stimulate economic growth and create jobs. This includes speeding up major infrastructure projects, improving training for our workforce, supporting businesses and most importantly creating job opportunities for our young people.
Whilst the next twelve months will be tough, I promise that the challenges we face will be equalled by my determination to support the people of Wales throughout the coming months and years. Of that be in no doubt.
May I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
First Minister Carwyn Jones