NEW YORK, Sept. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Haitian President Michel J. Martelly outlined Haiti's abundant investment opportunities and promised a more business-friendly Haiti in his opening address to the inaugural session of the Presidential Advisory Council on Economic Growth and Investment, held today in New York City.
The Council's first meeting, a gathering of more than 35 world and industry leaders committed to Haiti, was a critical initial step towards the Council's mission of accelerating job creation and economic development by harnessing investment funds for Haiti.
"Haiti is open for business," said an enthusiastic President Martelly. "We are ready for new ideas and new businesses, and are creating the conditions necessary for Haiti to become a natural and attractive destination for foreign investment."
The President personally committed to increasing Haiti's favorable business climate. "We intend to demonstrate in detail, that Haiti means business. To underscore this point, my Administration has already prepared and is ready to submit to congress two specific pieces of legislation. One would shorten the time it takes to open a business, and two, shorten the time it takes to get a construction permit."
The move was welcomed by the International Advisory Council, who is tasked with bringing investments into Haiti. "Somebody has to put the first foot out and the President has done that by taking concrete steps to make it easier to do business. Haiti is ready to move forward," said Haitian Grammy-winning artist, Wyclef Jean.
Laurent Lamothe, co-chair of the Council, outlined the tremendous untapped opportunities in housing, tourism, construction, agribusiness and virtually every other sector in Haiti as the nation continues to recover and rebuild in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.
"For those investors worldwide who may be looking at Haiti with interest, but are 'waiting to see,' let me say: The window of opportunity is now. Haiti has a new President and a new way of thinking about foreign investments and job creation as powerful engines for economic growth," said Lamothe.
Denis O'Brian, Chairman of Digicel Group agreed: "Haiti is at a crossroads, at a new beginning, with new leadership and political stability. The opportunity to bring in foreign direct investment into Haiti has never been better. Major new foreign investors have announced new projects that have the capacity to transform the country. I would encourage people to strongly look at Haiti and the opportunities for investment."
For his part, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Council member, who also started a Social Business Fund for Haiti right after the earthquake, remarked that this initiative has the possibility of transforming the country: "After the earthquake there was a lot of money that poured in, but these monies would not solve the country's problems. However, social businesses will not only turn a profit but will actually solve the country's problems."
Most of the Advisory Council members, which includes eight former heads of state, five CEOs of multinational companies, and a Nobel Prize recipient, among other leaders, stressed their personal commitment to bringing investments into Haiti and creating jobs. "We are all greatly indebted to Haiti, from a social and democratic perspective. When Colombia's independence was in doubt, Haiti was of great support. Now, Haiti needs concrete demonstrations of support and the will to help the country move forward," said former Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe.
Speaking on behalf of Haiti and the Advisory Council during the inaugural session, were:
- Laurent Lamothe, Co-Chair of the Council
- Laura Graham, representing Council Co-Chair, President Bill Clinton
- Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Council member
- Alvaro Uribe, former President of Colombia, Council member
- Mariano Fernandez, UN Representative to Haiti
- Wyclef Jean, Haitian Grammy-award winning musician, Council member
- Michaelle Jean, former Governor General of Canada, Council Member
- Percival James Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Council member
- Denis O' Brien, Chairman of Digicel Group, Council member
- Mayor Gerald Tremblay, Mayor of Montreal
The Advisory Council, launched on September 9, 2011 by President Martelly, with President William J. Clinton, provides strategic support for President Martelly and the Haitian government. Formation of the Council, and the focus on harnessing investment for Haiti to drive job creation and development, signals a significant shift in the approach taken by Haiti as the nation works to rebuild. "[The Council] is a very wise initiative for President Martelly," said Mariano Fernandez, UN representative to Haiti, "as it will allow Haiti the capacity to attract investment with the necessary social elements to provide equitable development."
SOURCE Presidential Advisory Council on Economic Growth and Investment