Yesterday, Haiti commemorated two years since the earthquake of January 12, 2010. Those of us who went through the earthquake spent the day remembering the colleagues and loved ones we lost that afternoon and thanking God that we survived.
Today, we are back at work, and we look to the challenges that remain: half of the rubble created by the quake is still there, and more than 500,000 people still live in tents. The commitment of the U.S. government toward Haiti remains strong and, together with our international partners, we support the Haitian government's continued efforts to clear rubble, rebuild neighborhoods, and find long-term shelter for the displaced.
Most of Haiti's woes did not begin with the earthquake, and chief among the long-term problems faced by millions of Haitians is the lack of employment opportunity. About 80 percent of the population is un- or underemployed, and more than three-quarters of the population lives on $2 dollars per day or less. Our foreign assistance can help build a foundation for a better future in Haiti, whether it is increasing electrical output or agricultural productivity, or strengthening the Haitian National Police and Haiti's healthcare system, but foreign assistance, by itself, is not a sustainable solution.
To achieve the transformative change that Haiti needs and provide long-term, sustainable benefits to the Haitian people, Haiti needs private sector investment.
Only investment creates the jobs that Haitians so desperately need and provides the tax revenue that the Haitian state sorely lacks. When people have jobs they have the dignity that comes from being able to provide for their families and the freedom to make their own choices. And when the government has more revenue, it can fund better schools, hospitals, and roads, and more and better-equipped police officers to keep Haiti's streets safe.
There are encouraging developments here. Construction is underway in northern Haiti on the Caracol Industrial Park, which will create more than 20,000 jobs in its initial stages and is anchored by a $78 million investment from Korean apparel manufacturer Sae-A Co., Ltd. In December, international hotel chain Marriott announced that it would operate a new hotel to be built in downtown Haiti. Haitian President Martelly and his cabinet have made job creation a priority for the Haitian government, telling the world that "Haiti is open for business."
These are good things, but Haiti needs to attract more investment to create more jobs. President Martelly recently created a Presidential Advisory Council on Economic Growth and Investment, which brings together the public and private sectors and will keep people focused on the opportunities here. This is good. More importantly, the government needs to make it easier to start a business, obtain construction permits, and secure legal land title. Through these simple steps, this government will be well on its way to succeed in truly opening Haiti for business.
I have been following Haiti for the last 25 years, and I am optimistic about the future. Haitians want to work and work well when they have the opportunity, and the few investors that have started operations in Haiti during this time, whether in telecommunications, commerce, and manufacturing, have created jobs and made money. I welcome the government's efforts to bring investment and jobs to Haiti as soon as possible and I look to it to move swiftly to simplify the processes to allow new business to be formed quickly. Investment can transform this country. The Haitian people cannot afford anything less.