CONTRIBUTION TO THE 2007/2008 SECTORAL DEBATE BY THE MINISTER OF HOUSING, TRANSPORT, WATER AND WORKS, HON. ROBERT PICKERSGILL ON MAY 30, 2007


It has been a year of achievements for us at the Ministry, while not without challenges; we have substantially met our targets. I have tabled a document entitled “Accounting for our Performance”. To have reached to this point I have to express my gratitude to so many. First to my family, they have continued to support me in their quiet way, guiding, commenting or just being there, thank you to my sister, brothers, nieces and nephews. For my immediate team members at the Ministry – my other family – my assistants, advisors and the security assigned to me, who have I can only say, ‘worked with my programme’. For the two Ministers of State who hold specific portfolio responsibilities in the Ministry, thank you for your capable management.
For the management team, headed by my Permanent Secretary and other team members at the Ministry – yet another family – thank you for giving your all to ensure that the day-to-day work gets done. To the Heads of the Agencies and the Board Chairpersons and Board Members of the twenty-four (24) Boards for which I have oversight, thank you for your continued commitment to serve.
To my Prime Minister for the confidence she has placed in me by entrusting me with a Ministry which she sometimes refers to as ‘the Ministry with too many names to call”. To my colleague Ministers for their advice and thoughtfulness; to my political colleagues including you across the floor thank you, it is your desire to represent and serve Jamaicans who have elected you that has kept you focused on the business of representation.
To my constituents, – yet another family – without you I would not have the opportunity to serve in this Parliament and to serve Jamaica at this level. While I have endeavoured to be with you as often as possible, I thank you for understanding why it is not possible to be there at all times. For the Councillors in my Constituency thank you for your representational work and your service to all the residents of the greatest Constituency in Jamaica, North West St. Catherine. Unfortunately, during the year, I lost one of my Councillors who served the Lluidas Vale Division over many years; I speak of Comrade Councillor Glen McLean.
Let me thank the Speaker, and the Parliamentary Staff for the courtesies they have extended and the patience and understanding that they continue o demonstrate.
I end here by thanking the Almighty for continued spiritual guidance which has been significant in helping me to find the ‘peace that has been described as passing all understanding’.
OPENING REMARKS
Mr. Speaker, our physical infrastructure consists of a broad range of systems and facilities which either house or transports our citizens or move our goods and services. This infrastructure includes our transportation networks, whether, roads, airports, seaports, rail, mass transit, water supply and housing. The interconnectedness between all these is clear; a decision on where to build or expand roads in turn affects decisions about housing and where we live.
It is therefore not by accident but by design that we have an umbrella Ministry, which combines the road network; land, air and sea transportation; water and shelter sectors. Our government understands the interrelationship between all these sectors and the need to ensure collaboration and strategic planning. The Government acknowledges the need for integrated planning to deliver all in concert with our overall objective, which is a quality society through sustained development while consistently creating opportunities for further growth.
I want to underscore that it is not that we afford priority to infrastructure over the other important areas such as social infrastructure, economic infrastructure or a sound legislative framework. These are also critical and underpin sustainable development. However we acknowledge the relationship between investment in infrastructure and economic growth, and the resulting improvement in the quality of life of the family. There is an undeniable correlationship between the three.
Mr. Speaker, studies have found that the volume of infrastructure stocks has a positive effect on long-term economic growth. In other words the more infrastructure that a country has the higher the prospects for growth. The higher the level of infrastructure the lower the level of income inequality. In other words with more roads, a better public transit system, quality housing, all families in Jamaica have better access to jobs, health care and education.
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