A development plan written "behind closed doors"

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A development plan written "behind closed doors"

Post by JustinFelux » Wed Jun 23, 2004 2:32 pm

By Jane Regan
1,310 words
22 June 2004
Inter Press Service
(c) 2004 Global Information Network

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jun. 21, 2004 (IPS/GIN) -- Haiti has a new
development plan aimed at pulling the country out of its age-old
economic, social and political morass with new roads and schools, policy
changes and millions upon millions of donor dollars.

The only problem, critics say, is that it was written behind closed doors,
follows a neo-liberal economic recipe and is little more than "disguised
colonialism" because of the large role played by international institutions
like the World Bank.

The Cadre de Cooperation International (CCI) or Interim Cooperation
Framework, a draft summary of which was released earlier this month,
has a generally neo-li
beral economic orientation that calls for more free
trade zones (FTZs), stresses tourism and export agriculture, and hints at
the eventual privatisation of the country's state enterprises.

But it also promises broad social and economic interventions, including
the immediate repair or building of hundreds of kilometres of roads, the
promotion of alternative energy sources and a radical improvement of the
education system.

The CCI -- which represents the first time that donors and lenders have
sat down with one another and the government to coordinate efforts in this
overwhelmingly aid-dependent country -- will be used to orient the aid
"pledging conference" scheduled for July 19-20 in Washington, DC.

Donors and lenders like the World Bank and the European Union are
expected to make financial commitments to Haiti during those two days.

The plan was developed over the past six weeks by about 300 mostly
foreign technicians and consultants, some
200 from institutions like the
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank,
and the rest mainly government cadres.

Thus, a two-year social and economic plan for a country of eight million
has been drawn up by people nobody elected.

Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue and his ministers were
hand-picked last March to run the country by an eight-person "Council of
Eminent Persons" who had backing from the United States, France and
the United Nations Security Council.

Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide allegedly resigned Feb. 29
following more than a year of protests and after an armed group took over
half of the country's police stations and marched on the capital.

The ex-president -- now in exile in South Africa -- continues to claim he
was overthrown in a "coup d'etat" by the U.S. Haiti's fellow members in the
Caribbean Community have refused to recognise the new administration
and continue to insist on
a probe into what exactly happened the night
Aristide was flown from his country in an American jet.

And the CCI will be carried out in a country where a U.N. peacekeeping
mission of what will eventually be over 8,000 soldiers and police is in
place. The Brazilian-led force is charged with providing security and
stability so that elections and development projects can be carried out.

A three-page statement by critics of the program last week said the CCI
plan "reinforces the structures and forms of [foreign] domination" of Haiti.

Almost no one from the country's large and experienced national
non-governmental organisation (NGO) community, the local and national
peasant associations, unions, women's groups or the hundreds of
producers' cooperatives or numerous other associations was invited to
participate in the CCI's 10 working groups.

And while the CCI documents have been available on-line for several
weeks, only a tiny number of Haitian
s have access to the Internet. Further,
the papers are written in English or French, a language that only 5-10
percent of Haitians speak and read. Most people here speak only Creole.

Even the seven-person Council of Eminent Persons, meant to serve as a
kind for counter-balance for Latortue, was not aware of or invited to
participate in the process.

"They didn't ask us," Anne-Marie Issa, one of seven "eminent people" and
the director of Radio Signal FM, told IPS. "We only heard about it like
everybody else, in the press after it was all over."

On June 11, some 60 representatives of more than three-dozen
organisations and NGOs met at a religious retreat to learn about the CCI
and to launch a counter-offensive. The room was full of anger, according
to Joseph Georges, director of the Society for the Animation of Social
Communication (SAKS), an NGO that works with community radio

"We thought we were finished with the habit of exclus
ion," he told IPS,
referring to Haiti's previous governments, including the recent Aristide

"The document is completely lacking in any kind of nationalist vision. It
calls for privatisation, for development only for tourism areas. And it was
drawn up by 'experts', most of them from overseas. You can't plan the
country's development without including the peasants," Georges said.

Among those organisations not invited to the table are groups like the
National Association of Haitian Agronomists (ANDAH), the Haitian
Platform for an Alternative Development (PAPDA), the Papaye and the Tet
Kole peasant movements and women's associations, he added.

Georges was among the signatories of the three-page document
denouncing the CCI as "disguised colonialism" developed without "any
concern for transparency," which "took place in a context of a growing loss
of sovereignty."

"The CCI is on the way to becoming the provisional governme
program," the groups said. "But so far, except for the ministries of
agriculture and health, the Boniface Alexandre-Latortue government has
not told the nation what its overall policy orientation will be for what
remains of its 18-month mandate. This information deficit is all the more
worrying since it is occurring while there is no sitting parliament."

Government officials reject the criticisms.

Minister of Economy and Finances Henri Bazin told IPS critics are
misreading the CCI if they say it calls for privatisation.

A summary of the CCI released in early June calls for audits, training for
directors and "the engagement of private management of certain public
enterprises," but not privatisation, he said. Bazin said he was "overall very
satisfied" with the plan's orientation.

Minister of Planning Roland Pierre, who helped coordinate the CCI, also
rejected the criticism, and described it as "a Haiti-led effort".

"Ministry emplo
yees who have worked for the government 10 or 20 years
oriented the CCI," he said in an interview.

The economic orientation of the CCI is not much different from the broad
economic lines followed by the governments of Aristide and Rene Preval.
Aristide, Haiti's first democratically chosen ruler, was president from
1991-1995, although that term was interrupted by a three-year coup, and
from 2000 until his recent resignation. Preval, his former prime minister,
ruled from 1995 to 2000.

Both administrations pursued neo-liberal - or unfettered free-enterprise -
economic policies. In the mid-nineties, Aristide and Preval began the
process of privatising state enterprises with the sale of the country's flour
mill and cement plant, and Aristide lowered tariffs on imported agricultural
goods to zero or near-zero. During his second term, Aristide vowed to
open 14 FTZs around the country.

Still, it is also clear the CCI planning process excluded most sec
although Pierre told IPS he and other planners gave groups ample time to
make their criticisms known.

"The documents are available at various ministries," noted the minister,
adding that at meetings he attended, he heard little criticism, nor has
anyone offered alternative ideas.

But consultative meetings took place in late May or June, after the bulk of
the CCI documents were written, and the ones in the countryside were
very poorly attended, according to Georges. Groups like SAKS and ANDAH
have not yet been invited to give their opinions, he added, and are working
on an alternative proposal.

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