Mr. Speaker, the global economic crisis which began in 2007, will go down in history as one of the defining moments of our time. I will not attempt to engage this honourable house on matters best addressed by my colleague Minister of Finance, but I am constrained to mention the global economic crisis for two reasons. Its impact on the entire economic framework of Jamaica and because of what I regard as the great irony of that meltdown.
Many will recall that certain practices within the housing industry in the United States played a significant role in the economic meltdown. What is now true, certainly within the Jamaican context, is that the housing sector has the potential to be a major player in putting us on the road to recovery.
Mr. Speaker, this statement should come as no surprise. The housing industry has been proven to be an engine for economic growth worldwide. There are numerous industries and services that are dependent on this sector, either directly or indirectly. These forward and backward linkages as well as the opportunities for significant job creation, can certainly serve as a catalyst for economic recovery, if properly planned and implemented.
The water sector also has a significant role to play in any attempts to achieve economic renewal. We certainly cannot hope to attract the levels of investment that are required to ensure economic growth or take advantage of improved economic conditions in the future, if our physical infrastructure key among which are water and sewerage, is not adequate. In addition, the implementation phase of these infrastructure works has the potential to provide large scale employment opportunities.
It is within this context therefore, that I make my contribution this afternoon, fully aware that the performance of the two sectors for which I have responsibility, could well be among the factors that determine how the country weathers this period of economic hardship.
I will begin by highlighting the steps that the core Ministry and our agencies have taken to reposition ourselves to effectively respond to and capitalize on the challenges. I will then provide an outline of what we plan to achieve during the 2009/2010 financial year with our goal of BUILDING COMMUNITIES AND IMPROVING LIVES
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