Another disaster in Haiti: we name the guilty parties

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Another disaster in Haiti: we name the guilty parties

Post by admin » Tue Sep 21, 2004 8:04 am


Another disaster in Haiti: we name the guilty parties
- Haiti Support Group press release, 21 September 2004

[quote]So far the total number of fatalities caused by the recent heavy rains and flash-floods in north-west Haiti stands at around 600, but the final tally is sure to be far higher.

This is the second major disaster this year, in addition to numerous other deadly but less well-reported floods. The news is terrible, but it is not enough to wring our hands and say 'poor Haiti'. Nor is it sufficient to call on the international community to provide more and better humanitarian relief. We must look at the reasons why Haiti is prone to these catastrophes.

Both the flash-floods in the south-east in May, and now these in the north-west, are a direct consequence of the over-farming and deforestation of the country's hills and mountainsides. When heavy rain falls, the water cannot be absorbed, and instead cascades down valleys and ravines, sweeping away anything and anybody it its path.

The problems of soil-erosion and deforestation are well-known, and so is the only possible remedy - land reform. Yet over the course of almost three decades, the country's economic policy has been dictated by international finance institutions, such as the World Bank, the IMF and the Inter-American Development Bank, and not only has land reform never appeared on their agenda, but no national government that has proposed it has received any encouragement to carry it out.

Instead, successive governments have been obliged to carry out neo-liberal economic policies which give no priority to the countryside whatsoever, even though some two-thirds of the population live there.

Billions and billions in international aid has been lent to Haitian governments,
but the focus has remained on governance, security, elections and support for the private sector. Next to nothing has been done to support the agricultural sector - no land reform, no subsidies for fertilisers or storage facilities, no reforestation campaign, no irrigation projects, no protection from cheaper imports, etc. etc.

Is it any wonder that Haiti's peasant farmers overwork their small plots, and cut down trees to raise cash from charcoal production?

Even now, after neo-liberal economic policies in Haiti have been shown to have failed over and over again, the current government - with the support of the international finance institutions and the European Commission - is continuing to ignore the needs of the rural population. At the international donors' conference in Washington DC. in July, yet again the focus was on support for the urban private sector.

The attitude of the current interim government was summed up when, shortly after the May 2004 flood disaster, Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said perhaps the solution would be to employ former soldiers to shoot peasants found cutting down trees.

By, once more, doing everything to preserve the dominance of the country's immensely rich elite, and nothing to support the peasantry, the international community is complicit in the loss of life and misery caused by this, and future, natural disasters in Haiti. [/quote]

Contact:: Charles Arthur - haitisupport@gn.apc.org

______________________________________________

This email is forwarded as a service of the Haiti Support Group.

See the Haiti Support Group web site:
www.haitisupport.gn.apc.org

Solidarity with the Haitian people's struggle for justice, participatory democracy and equitable development, since 1992.
____________________________________________

HenriD

Post by HenriD » Fri Sep 24, 2004 2:06 pm

Patrice Backer has asked me to post this here for him.

From: Patrice Backer [mailto:pbacker2001@myacc.net]
Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 11:20 PM
To: 'haitisupport@gn.apc.org'
Subject: Response to: Another disaster in Haiti: we name the guilty parties - Haiti Support Group press release

Dear Mr. Arthur,

For a number of years now, I have been reading emails from the Haiti Support Group regardig events of major importance in Haiti. I have agreed with some of your positions and disagreed with others. Most of the time, even in cases where I did not share your point of view, I respected the fact that you presented coherent arguments that placed the welfare of the Haitian people at their core. That is why, for the first time, I am taking the time to write to you to express my disappointment at the article published by the Haiti Support Group entitled "Another Disaster in Haiti:"We Name the Guilty Parties."

Apart from major and misleading inaccuracies, the continuous mantra that everything that happens in Haiti (almost always bad) can always be linked to the country's "immensely rich elite" is starting to ring hollow. This reduced view of Haiti as a pure binary world (rich vs poor, light skinned vs dark skinned, urban vs rural) may have had some validity in the past, but the reality is much more complex nowadays. How about the responsibility of all of us, rich and poor, in the United States or Canada? How about the influence (and responsibility) of the middle class living abroad? Is every event the result of occult maneuvers by the "elite"? How do you define this elite?

Let's look at your text a little closer:

1. "Both the flash-floods in the south-east in May, and now these in the north-west, are a direct consequence of the over-farming and deforestation of the country's hills and mountainsides. When heavy rain falls, the water cannot be absorbed, and instead cascades down valleys and ravines, sweeping away anything and anybody it its path."

Agreed.

2. "The problems of soil-erosion and deforestation are well-known, and so is the only possible remedy - land reform. Yet over the course of almost three decades, during which the country's economic policy has been dictated by international financal institutions, such as the World Bank, the IMF and the Inter-American Development Bank, not only has land reform never appeared on their agenda, but no national government that has proposed it has received any encouragement to carry it out. "

You are surely referring to the land reform program (INARA) undertaken under the Preval regime. Who was supposed to carry it out? Who should have provided the encouragement? Have you actively looked into the reasons why INARA was a spectacular failure? Can you claim that the "elites' are behind these events? If yes, which "elites" this time? Have you spoken to Bernard Etheart about the reasons for the failure of that land reform program?

You mention land reform. It is all well and good to talk about it in the abstract, but what type of land reform do you advocate? It is time for precise suggestions, not the usual criticism. We don't need anymore fingerpointing after this horrific disaster.

3. "Billions and billions of dollars in international aid has been lent to Haitian governments, but the focus has remained on governance, security, elections and support for the private sector. Next to nothing has been done to support the agricultural sector - no land reform, no subsidies for fertilisers or storage facilities, no subsidised credit, no reforestation campaign, no irrigation projects, no protection from cheaper imports, etc. etc."

Last I checked, our foreign debt did not exceed $2 billion. So I am not sure about the "billions and billions ... lent to Haitian governments" part. Compared to the Dominican Republic and many of our neighbors (even Cuba), that is peanuts. I expect more than hysterical hyperbolae from an outfit such as yours.

As for support for the private sector, I challenge you to provide proof of what you claim. Judging by the statement above, we should have had quite a private sector by now. Yet, from 1988 to today, we have witnessed a continuous pauperization of the private sector. The latter suffered a severe blow with the 1993 embargo, which basically decimated the assembly industry and drove many into bankruptcy. Haiti's growth rate never recovered, neither did our economy. So where did these billions of dollars go that were supposed to prop up the private sector? Can you provide us with precise accounting?

Let's talk about subsidies and support to the agricultural sector. It is quite interesting that you mention it. I had several discussions with growers from the Bas-Artibonite and the Plateau Central who were tired of being shafted by all the so-called experts and institutions that were there to assist them. For the longest time, ODVA was supposed to help them, but nothing happened. The BCA went bankrupt many years ago because of mismanagement and fraud. BNDAI went under during the Duvalier era because of mismanagement and fraud. Were these doings of the elite? So Are the elites running ODVA?

Let's talk about the latest scam concerning fertilizers. Japan gave to Haiti numerous grants of fertilizers that were supposed to be sold to growers by ODVA at a subsidized rate of H$75. Instead the growers now have to buy these fertilizers in the OPEN market at a cost of H$160 a bag. Are the elites the ones running the scam? Or is it political appointees, holdovers from the Lavalas era (since they controlled ODVA for about 14 years), who have transformed that institution into their personal piggy bank?

Protection from cheaper imports, you say? I guess the question is why any government abdicated its responsibilities and agreed to set the lowest tariffs in the Caribbean unilaterally, even below those of other CARICOM countries. The losers were not only, inter alia, the rice growers of the Artibonite Valley, but also the entrepreneurs who had set up food processing facilities in the country. They just could not compete against goods that were subsidized overseas. To claim that only the agriculture sector suffered is to ignore the segment of "production nationale" private sector that went under as well. No one talks about them, but they lost out just as well, and along with their businesses, gone were the jobs and the impact on local communities. So the elites did that too?

As for reforestation, you might be surprised to know that a cadre of idealist Haitians (should I say dreamers?) with foreign funding worked hard to preserve many "protected" sites in our country, like the Forêt des Pins and the Macaya Park. Yet these projects were given no support under the Lavalas government, surprisingly enough, despite funding. Worse yet, an acquaintance of mine who served as a volunteer warden at the Macaya Forest was kicked out by locals who claimed that that area was to be protected only by FL supporters. What can I say? Is this the shadowy hand of the elite?

4. "Even now, after neo-liberal economic policies in Haiti have been shown to have failed over and over again, the current government - with the support of the international finance institutions and the European Commission - is continuing to ignore the needs of the rural population. At the international donors' conference in Washington DC. in July, yet again the focus was on support for the urban private sector. Local industrialists - the government's main source of domestic support - are pushing ahead with their plans to build more and more sweatshop assembly plants. "

This is probably the most egregious part of your piece. It is inaccurate and misleading. I have many issues with the Interim Cooperation Framework (CCI) of the Latortue government, not the least of which is the opacity in which it was developed, but I believe that your knowledge (or interpretation of
it) is woefully lacking. I am enclosing the full budget of the CCI for your review, and I invite you to draw your own conclusions as to whether the focus is really on the urban private sector:

CADRE DE COOPERATION INTERIMAIRE
RESUME DU BUDGET

DISPONIBLE GAP A FINANCER TOTAL CCI
Thème INT. EXT. AF 03-04 AF04-05 AF05-06 TOTAL $ %
AXE 1 - ASSURER UNE MEILLEURE GOUVERNANCE POLITIQUE ET PROMOUVOIR LE DIALOGUE NATIONAL
1.1 Sécurité, Police et DDR 16.0 - 12.0 47.4 33.3 92.7 108.7 8.0%
1.2 Justice, Institutions Pénitentiaires et Droits Humains - 1.8 1.4 10.9 10.2 22.5 24.3 1.8%
1.3 Processus Electoral et Dialogue National 2.9 - 1.7 24.5 10.9 37.1
40.0 2.9%
18.9 1.8 15.1 82.8 54.4 152.3 173.0 12.7%

AXE 2 - RENFORCER LA GOUVERNANCE ECONOMIQUE ET CONTRIBUER AU DEVELOPPEMENT INSTITUTIONNEL
2.1 Gouvernance Economique - 2.6 3.5 9.9 6.4 19.8 22.4 1.6%
2.2 Renforcement des Capacités Institutionnelles 95.1 - 0.7 2.3 3.5 6.5 101.6 7.4%
2.3 Développement Local, Aménagement du Territoire et Décentralisation - 7.2 4.4 17.2 11.9 33.5 40.7 3.0%
95.1 9.8 8.6 29.4 21.8 59.8 164.7 12.1%

AXE
3 - FAVORISER LA RELANCE ECONOMIQUE
3.1 Stabilité Macroéconomique - - - - - - -
3.2 Électricité - - 9.7 35.7 47.0 92.4 92.4 6.8%
3.3 Création Rapide d'Emplois et Micro-Finance - 65.0 2.2 19.1 14.4 35.7 100.7 7.4%
3.4 Développement du Secteur Privé, PMEs/PMIs - 5.5 0.5 14.0 9.1 23.6 29.1 2.1%
3.5 Agriculture 3.2 28.9 2.8 46.6 36.4 85.8 117.9 8.6%
3.6 Routes et Transports 3.0 77.0 - 34.6 46.
5 81.1 161.1 11.8%
3.7 Protection et Réhabiliation de l'Environnement - 2.7 0.8 13.7 9.1 23.6 26.3 1.9%
6.2 179.1 16.0 163.7 162.5 342.2 527.5 38.6%

AXE 4 - AMELIORER L'ACCES AUX SERVICES DE BASE
4.1 Aide Humanitaire d'Urgence (inclue dans différents thèmes)
4.2 Eau et Assainissement - 32.3 - 18.4 29.5 47.9 80.2 5.9%
4.3 Santé et Nutrition 5.5 47.2 25.1 27.5 29.6 82.2 134.9 9.9%
4.4 Education, Jeunesse et Sport - 42.9 23.2 51.5 7.5 82.2
125.1 9.2%
4.5 Culture, Médias, et Communication - - - 6.1 6.3 12.4 12.4 0.9%
4.6 Sécurité Alimentaire 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.7 0.5 1.3 1.8 0.1%
4.7 Déchets Solides - - 7.7 14.8 12.8 35.3 35.3 2.6%
4.8 Amélioration des Bidonvilles - - 1.3 12.4 14.8 28.5 28.5 2.1%
4.9 Filet de Sécurité et Protection Sociale 1.4 1.8 1.0 11.8 13.0 25.8 29.0 2.1%
7.0 124.6 58.4 143.2 114.0 315.6 447.2 32.7%


AUTRE - EPUREMENT DES ARRIÉRÉS (1) 53.9 - - - - - 53.9 3.9%

TOTAL 181.10 315.30 98.10 419.10 352.70 869.90 1,366.30 100.0%
En % 13.3% 23.1% 7.2% 30.7% 25.8% 63.7% 100.0%

(1) APUREMENT DES ARRIÉRÉS BILATÉRAUX D'ICI SEPTEMBRE 2004 ET TRAITEMENT DES ARRIÉRÉS BILATÉRAUX EN TERMES DU CLUB DE PARIS EN AF 04-05


The private sector (highlighted in green) gets 2.1% of the total budget; the Agricultural sector (highlighted in yellow) gets 8.6%. The agriculture world gets 4 times what the Private sector get. The overwhelming majority of this plan is not a private sector gravy train, nor is it a gift to the elites. The beneficiaries are more likely to be at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder than at the top. But why let the facts get in the way?

In fact, at the World Bank meetings in Washington, the private sector got short shrift as it was not even discussed during the OFFICIAL meetings. To accommodate the private sector members who made the trip to Washington, the US Chamber of Commerce organized a meeting for the private sector (the only one devoted to the Private sector) on the Wednesday following the OFFICIAL meetings at the World Bank. I know: I WAS THERE! So it seems that I must have missed quite a few meetings that your representative attended.

Your silence on the losses suffered by the private sector, both formal and informal, is eloquent. The damage wrought, the bankruptcies, the lost jobs were not apparent to outsiders who know little about the economy. But we all saw what happened with the start of school in September. To pretend that the private sector is a leech that does nothing but suck the blood of all the others - as you imply - is to ignore that you cannot have a well-functioning economy without that private sector. The illusion that the Haitian private sector is doing well and getting wealthier all the time is just that, an illusion.

5. "By, once more, doing everything to preserve the dominance of the country's immensely rich elite, and nothing to support the poverty-stricken peasantry, the international community is complicit in the loss of life and misery caused by this, and the inevitable future, natural disasters in Haiti."

As we say in French, "la boucle est bouclée." You throw out a few statements about the issues of agriculture; you have some peripheral comments about the government's efforts to funnel everything to the private sector when the record shows otherwise; you throw in the traditional accusations against the elite for good measure, and, presto, we come to the conclusion that this whole effort is nothing more than a conspiracy to make the private sector richer. I guess someone forgot to tell them that.

At any rate, Mr. Arthur, I am quite disappointed at the tenor of that article. I did not expect from those who ably defended the Cointreau workers against injustice such an intellectually dishonest piece, replete with misleading statements and below-the-belt innuendos.

I usually do not get personal in such emails, but I will do so this time. I am the proud grandson of a market seller from Saint Michel de l'Attalaye who worked hard to give her children a decent education and a moral upbringing. My father did his studies in Saint-Michel and Gonaives until "troisième" when he had to go to Port-au-Prince to finish secondary school. I am therefore the son of "moun an deyò" and the grandson of a "peyizan". One of the lessons that has been passed down to me is that we need to look at reality in the face and tell things like they are. I do know my history enough to know about the "elites", the history of discrimination throughout our history, and the notion of the Morally Repugnant Elite. But I also do know that "la classe" was given its chances and failed, and that "pèp la" was given a chance and
failed. In sum, we all failed. To blame the floods and the most recent disaster simply on policies that favored the elites is to cast the other social groups as permanent victims and to relieve us from our collective responsibilities in this disaster. This may suit your political and ideological purposes, but it does not represent the reality of Haiti. By transforming the many who died in Mapou, in Gonaives, in the Northwest as pawns in your ideological battle, you have just sullied their memories,

Best regards,
Patrice Backer

Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Sat Sep 25, 2004 7:36 am

I would like to say, Patrice I am sorry!

Like Henri said, I believed in the ogre's myth. I really thought that you weren't Haitian.

Anyway, I really like to listen to the other side, and you guys are doing it. Even though I blame you a little bit to lay low and not coming out publicly before. Haiti needs you.

Like Jaf said: "It's late, but not too late".

I understood that a lot of people including myself thought that Haiti's problem was "Boujwa". Until recently, listening to people who had to live in exile, as a young boy, for the defiance to Duvalier's regime by their parents.

People heard stories like Duvalier had to kill or expatriate a lot of Mulattoes or people from the Bourgeoisie for their apartheid south african like behavior or attitude. Until recently, someone told me that Francois' paranoia of intellectuals and progressist movement in Haiti was responsible for a lot of "Boujwa progresis" living
in exile... In Cayes, Jeremie, etc., a lot of people lost their lives...

Well, we had never heard of those stories before. We heard of boujwa this and that. Racist, aloufa, tilolit etc... This stays with us for I don't know how long?

If we had more people coming forward, telling their sides. Maybe, we wouldn't be so apart. Perhaps things would have been different positively.

I understand that after being burnt by politicians, the elite just used economic power instead of politics. Ourselves, we were more into "pozisyon chef san lajan", that is why things are so disproportionate. Again, that is my opinion.

I appreciate once again reading or listenning to the other side of the story. Really, not everything is black and white in life. It is easy to blame others for your misfortune. "Ranmase KaraktEn".

Great, Henri, tell Patrice and our Brothers, they are welcome. This is probably the best Marriage, maybe better than 1802-4! We are Family here at WOH.

L'union fait la F
orce!

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Post by admin » Sat Sep 25, 2004 2:11 pm

One more thing I would like to ask Patrice: What is the meaning of all those numbers and percentages?

I feel practically as dumb as George W. Bush, who said: "It's clearly a budget. It's got lots of numbers in it."

Forgive my limitations, "those things" require some explaining to me. Obviously the "plain text" format limitations of this forum contribute to my bewilderment. "Un tableau" (Excel spreadsheet or Word table) would likely demystify the presentation. You cannot port such to the forum without my direct involvement. However, if you are willing to send me the spreadsheet, I could rather easily convert it to HTML and post it on your behalf. Conversely, you could create the HTML page yourself, and send it to me so I could simply post it, once again on your behalf and for everyone's benefit.

Of course, I know that all the smart people on the forum have already made sense of those numbers, but per
haps they will not mind slowing down a little to let me catch up a bit.

Pbacker

Patrice Backer/Better copy of CCI file

Post by Pbacker » Sat Sep 25, 2004 3:59 pm

If anyone wants the files I have on CCI, please email me at pbacker2001@myacc.net with your request. I guess the software running this forum could not reproduce the table I included in my response properly. If your email program handles HTML, then you will have a better idea. Alternatively, I can send you the Microsoft Excel file.

I have the files (including the PDF file Jafrikayiti refers to) in French and English.

People have asked questions that I am not sure I can expertly answer, but I will give it a shot in a follow-up post.

Patrice Backer

Pbacker

Post by Pbacker » Sat Sep 25, 2004 4:52 pm

Guy,

I have sent you the Microsoft Excel file as well as 3 other documents in Microsoft Word re: CCI. These documents are:

1. Full July 7 report: "Rapport de Synthèse"
2. Executive summary of the report, for those who don't have the time to read all of it.
3. The results matrix of the CCI, which outlines the objectives and the anticipated results, item by item. More than the table I posted, this is the document that all should consult.

I am quite perturbed by the fact that there was no effort to publicize these documents. The lack of transparency on basic issues such as budgets, government expenditures, etc. going back as far as I can remember is simply mind boggling.

The Microsoft Excel table is my own creation. It is a summary of the Results matrix which I put together for a meeting with a group of friends from the "quartiers populaires" (Cité Soley and Carrefour-Feuilles) and students from local universities of Port-au-Prince. They, like you, wanted to know what this CCI was all about since no one bothered to tell them.

The Microsoft Excel table represents the government's analysis of what needed to be done, what resources it had, and the "gap" that needed to be filled over the next three fiscal years 04, 05, and 06. After the Washington meetings, the gap was "covered" through pledges.

Here is an explanation of the column headings:

Column B: DISPONIBLE - INT - Funds that the government currently has available from tax and customs receipts which are allocated to the CCI

Column C: DISPONIBLE - EXT - Funds that the government can draw on from external assistance, which are already available.

Column E - AF 03-04 - Funds needed to cover the program items for the Fiscal Year ending September 30, 2004 (current Fiscal Year)

Column F - AF 04-05 - Funds needed to cover the program items for the Fiscal Year ending September 30, 2005 (current Fiscal Year)

Column G - AF 05-06 - Funds needed to cover the program items for the Fiscal Year ending September 30, 2006 (current Fiscal Year)

Pbacker

Post by Pbacker » Sat Sep 25, 2004 6:56 pm

Dear Leonel,

You wrote:
[quote]... Like Henri said, I believed in the ogre's myth. I really thought that you weren't Haitian.

Anyway, I really like to listen to the other side, and you guys are doing it. Even though I blame you a little bit to lay low and not coming out publicly before. Haiti needs you.[/quote]

1. What made you think I was not Haitian? Just curious.

2. "Lying low" is subjective, so I do not accept the blame. :-) We "Internet-connected" people sometimes think that, unless people post on the Internet frequently, people are just lying low. In fact, I happen to speak to a lot of people in Haiti about the very same topic we are discussing, but most of them don't own a computer, don't have access to the Internet, heck, they don't even have electricity at home! So what is your definition of "lying low", may I ask?

I also find that spending too much time having these "dialogues?" on Internet fora, email lists, etc. can be quite a sterile endeavor. I tried before and I gave up. Waste of time! Waste of energy! I much prefer to spend my time talking to, and working with, YOUNG people in Haiti and in the US, whenever that is possible. The conversations I have with them, even though we may not always agree on everything, are much, much more rewarding than the academic stuff that gets forwarded to me by well-meaning friends (no offense to the PHD's and professors on this forum.)

As I said in my response to Charles Arthur, many people have a black-and-white view of Haitian issues (no pun intended.) I see Haiti in millions of colors (or shades of gray.) We are focused so much on politics, democracy, etc. Has anyone ever bothered to ask young people what they want? My very unscientific poll is that the individuals I have talked to want 1) a decent education and 2) a good job to support their family, in that order. The hunger for knowledge that the young people (ages 14 to 28) I spoke to, is incredible. Whenever I discuss issues related to economics, finance, management, etc, they are like SPONGES. They absorb and come back with more questions. When I provide them with references, they go get the information if its available or ask me to locate it for them.

The upshot for this forum? Don't expect too many posts from me. I will answer some of the "technical" questions that have been asked and leave it at that.

Patrice

Pbacker

Re: Inquiry to Mr. Patrice Baker

Post by Pbacker » Sat Sep 25, 2004 7:36 pm

These answers are by no means authoritative.
... Haiti's economic problems are so enormous and since the international community is so ready to help, can you tell us whether, during the latest economic meeting on Haiti in Washington, the possibility, or should I say, the necessity to forgive the major portion of Haiti's external debt was ever discussed? If not, why not?
In my opinion, Haiti's economic problems are NOT as enormous as they seem. We have structural problems which are more daunting than economic issues. Remember that, until the early 1970's, Haiti had NO debt. I would also say that, to really reform public administration, all governments (past and present) have neglected a critical part of the administration that has a direct effect on the quality of the services delivered to the population. And I am willing to bet that the next
government (and the next) will probably make the same mistakes.

Aid from the international community is a double-edged sword and may not necessarily be what we want. It is a question of objectives. As for the comment you make that they are ready to help, we must always scrutinize the strings attached to the aid. Unfortunately, we have screwed up so much that we are now painted in a corner.

To answer your question, the possibility of forgiving Haiti's foreign debt was not discussed in Washington. Up to now, Haiti does not meet the definition of a highly-indebted country, which is required to be eligible for some debt forgiveness. Dura "lex" sed "lex." There has been quite a debate on this issue, as you know, with PAPDA and the Jubilee 2000 movement leading the charge FOR debt forgiveness.

I believe that there should be forgiveness of the debt ONLY if there is a parallel effort to institute good governance , otherwise " se lave men siye a te." The additional f
unds that are freed might well end up being wasted, spent on non-essential services or embezzled or ...
... If I am not mistaken, the external debt of Haiti is estimated at around 1.2 billions dollars; the Govt. was promised 1.4 billions. What percentage of this amount constitutes grants? What percentage contitutes loans and for how many years?
I do not have any additional information other than what has been reported in the press. When you consider the $1.4 billion. you need to know that:

1. $660 million will be fresh GRANTS
2. $440 million will be fresh LOANS - I have no additional details.
3. The balance is already covered either by government funds or by loans from the Inter-American Development Bank that were approved under the Aristide government.
... I do not know if this information is confidential and whether you can talk about it, but I believe many of us would like to kno
w what is going on, given, as you rightly said, the "opacity" which surrounded the drafting of this economic program.
I have always asked to my friends in the public sector that they provide more transparency. In fact, dating back to the 1990 elections, the motto of the winning party, which I embraced wholeheartedly, was: Justice, Transparency, Participation.

Alas, transparency has never really been part of the agenda. This is not a peculiarity of the previous administration. It is a chronic disease of Haitian administrations. A couple of years ago, I remember asking a friend of mine in high places for a copy of the itemized government budget, which I thought would be a public document since it was being discussed in Parliament and in the press. To this day, I have yet to receive a copy.

The manner in which I obtained the CCI documents is another case in point. The documents I have (dated July 7) are not posted on the website. Negligence? Oversight? On purpose? Who kno
ws? A friend of mine received them from a friend who received them from a friend ... You get the picture. There is not a central repository of information (a website, for example) where you can go to get what should be public documents: budgets, itemized monthly expenditures of the government, revenues and expenses of the autonomous bodies of the government and of state-owned enterprises, etc.

Information is a precious currency that a small group of government officials jealously hoard as it is their source of power. Until we overcome that mindset, I am afraid a small group of connected people (including a small group within the private sector) will be the only ones who know really what is going on. In that sense, I cannot say that the current administration is any better. There have been promises of greater transparency, but I have yet to see it.

The ONE notable exception is the modernization effort that the late Leslie Delatour undertook at the Central Bank. Whatever the ideological issues p
eople may have had with him, he brought Haiti's banking industry from the dark ages to the twentieth century. In the process, he also reined in some of the abnormal tendencies of these banks and forced them to conform to internationally accepted standards and regulations. People may not know this, but the Haitian banking sector is in full conformity with almost all international regulations and has nothing to be ashamed of. The end result is that the banking sector is the most transparent sector of the Haitian economy: all banks HAVE to report their financial statements to the Central Bank on a monthly basis, and they have to publish their balance sheets on a quarterly basis in local newspapers. Unfortunately, Delatour's successors have been less strict about the publication of this information to the general public and the BRH website is several months behind. But I have the total overview of the banking sector in Excel format as of June 30, 2004 if anyone is interested. That information comes straight fro
m the Central Bank. It is in French.

My small crusade is to make the information I receive available to as many as possible, hence the spreadsheet I created out of the docs I received so that I could provide a one-page summary of the CCI to anyone who asks.

I hope these answers help.

Pbacker

Post by Pbacker » Sat Sep 25, 2004 11:12 pm

[quote]However, I think it is unfortunate that we cannot negotiate some kind of swap arrangements (I believe that is the way it is called) whereby part of the debt would be forgiven against a government committment toward, say planting 5 000 trees in different areas of a region to help with the environment.[/quote]

In theory, this is a great idea, and in fact there was talk of using a similar scheme when the Hispaniola Fund was being discussed. In practice, however:

1. Debt-for-anything swaps only work with bilateral debt (as opposed to multilateral debt), from what I understand.

2. If I am correct above, Haiti's bilateral debt is tiny (I think we owe the US government something like $10 million). Furthermore, any debt-for-nature swap would have to be approved by the Haitian legislature, which doesn't exist at present, but also by the US Treasury ... and these folks are anything but
straightforward.

It is not impossible, and $10 million could make a difference, but I don't know whether anyone will even take up such an effort given all that is happening.

Isabelle_

The Hispaniola Fund

Post by Isabelle_ » Tue Oct 12, 2004 12:20 pm

Patrice:

What is the Hispaniola Fund?

IsabelleF

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