3/16-L’Agence Haitienne de Presse: Earthquake Destroyed 45% GDP, $17B Needed for Reconstruction, Haitian Lawmaker Accuses US of Hypocrisy on “Corruption” Allegations

Posted on March 17, 2010


 AHP News – March 16, 2010 –   English translation + Selected Headlines (Unofficial)

 At the Santo-Domingo technical preparatory conference, Prime Minister Bellerive proposes a multilateral fiduciary fund to administer Haiti’s reconstruction projects

Santo-Domingo, March 16, 2010 – (AHP)Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive, speaking Tuesday at the opening of the international donors technical preparatory conference in Santo Domingo, proposed the creation of a multilateral fiduciary fund to administer funds for the rebuilding of Haiti after the devastating January 12th earthquake that caused more than 200,000 deaths.


The conference being held through Wednesday at the Santo Domingo hotel drew officials and technical experts  from 28 countries as well as international organizations. Their conclusions will be presented at the international donors conference to be held at the UN on March 31st in New York.  The conference is designed to assess the damage caused by the earthquake, valued at up to slightly more than $14 billion. Reliable sources in Washington are confident that the total needed for reconstruction over the next 10 years is closer to $17 billion.


However in the immediate term, the prime minister said that Haiti still needs the support of the international community to meet a variety of needs including potable water, food and shelter.  


He also pointed out that in 30 seconds the earthquake destroyed 45% of the countries Gross Domestic Product. Some 400 schools, comprising 90% of schools in the West department, were destroyed, he said. No sector was spared, he explained. Now we should talk in terms of the country’s future development, which will require sufficient money, and credible organization and structure. In that regard, the prime minister noted that in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia, special funds were created that are similar to what he is proposing for Haiti.


” We propose, with the assistance of the international community, the establishment of a similar structure”, he said. He has in mind a multinational fund based on a plan developed by Haiti that would be administered over the next 18 months by the Haitian government and the international community. After that time, the fund would be managed by a development agency for the rebuilding of Haiti.


Jean Max Bellerive stressed the need to rapidly rebuild the capacity of the Haitian state to finance its own projects and to do so in the most transparent way possible.  


Reliable sources in Washington believe that Haiti’s reconstruction needs will cost $17 billion over 10 years

Washington,  March 16, 2010 – (AHP)  Reliable sources in Washington believe that Haiti’s reconstruction needs will cost as much as $17 billion over the next 10 years, or $1.7 billion per year. These sources feel that most of the funds could be administered by a single consortium.   Of that amount, $170 million, or 1%, would be earmarked for the Haitian government, at an annual rate of $17 million for budget support.


The organizers of the conference that opened Tuesday in  Santo-Domingo claim that it is expected to result in an agreement between the Haitian government, civil society, the Haitian diaspora, and the international community, particularly the Latin American governments.


The document that is to be produced at this preparatory conference will be submitted to the March 31st international donors conference at UN headquarters in New York, where a final document is expected to be agreed.


However, the sources say, there may not be an announcement at the New York conference of the total amount slated for  reconstruction, because a final conference is scheduled for mid-April, probably in Washington.


The U.S. government might be among the top donors for reconstruction with perhaps $3 billion.


Relations between the Haitian and U.S. governments have cooled somewhat in the last week after the U.S. State Department published in the Haiti entry of its 2009 country report criticism of “severe corruption in all branches of government”.


Haitian President René Préval rejected this characterization. While acknowledging that there has long been some level of corruption at most levels of Haitian life, he denied the implication that he, his prime minister and his ministers are personally corrupt, and  wondered whether this harsh criticism might be part of a broader scheme to diminish the role of the Haitian government in administering reconstruction funds.  


 Haitian Parliamentarians respond to U.S. allegations of corruption; the president of the Lower Chamber accuses the U.S. government of having supported corrupt governments in the past 

 Port-au-Prince,  March 16, 2010 – (AHP)House of Deputies President Levaillant Louis Jeune (of the Lespwa platform), spoke out Monday against what he saw as the hypocrisy of the U.S. government, which denounced corruption within the Haitian government and the Parliament (as well as the judiciary and police) in its recently published country reports of human rights practices, while it supported for many years some of the most corrupt governments ever to rule Haiti, including Papa Doc and Baby Doc.


Deputy Jeune, who supported the  arrival to power of the de facto government in Haiti in 2004, also accused the former Clinton Administration of having allowed the government in exile of President Aristide and Prime Minister Préval to have access to public funds from after the violent military coup d’Etat of September 1991.  


Several political leaders have sharply disagreed with the remarks of Deputy Jeune, suggesting that he should have acknowledged the behavior of the majority of Deputies, including himself, who continue to draw their paychecks from the public treasury without doing any work at all, despite the fact that their term in office on the second Monday in January.


 Senator Jean Hector Anacacis accused the Deputies of having done nothing to earn their salaries and other privileges they have enjoyed after having obtained an extension of their term in office until May of this year.


The Deputies, he said, should stop turning in circles and make themselves useful to the State by voting on a whole series of laws.


” They charge full speed ahead on the distribution of what they say is food, even though that is not their role”, said Senator  Anacacis, asserting that they should make themselves useful to justify the money they receive.


Pastor Chavanne Jeune, leader of the Union Party, while acknowledging that there may well be an agenda behind the publication of the U.S. report highlighting corruption, stated that he believes corruption is indeed endemic within the Haitian government.


He cited the example of the scandal of the narco-dollars that went missing from a police drug seizure in  Port-de-paix (in the North-West Department) and the $ 197 million of emergency aid provided by Venezuela’s PetroCaribe after the 2008 hurricanes. In both cases, no action was taken, he said, to hold anyone responsible.


” For two years, the government has provided  explanations for neither of these scandals”, said Pastor Jeune.


Former  Senator from Les Cayes, Jean Gabriel Fortuné, asked Monday for an explanation of remarks by President René Preval indicating that a portion of the funds from Petro Caribe ($163 million) were used to build the road from  Cayes to Jérémie (South/ Southwest). According to the former Senator, construction on the road in question, which began at the end of 2009, is financed by the Canadian government.


Mr. Fortuné asked the three Senators from the South,  Carlos Lebon, Yvon Buissereth and Francky Exius, as well as Deputy  Guy Gérard Georges (Torbeck / Port-Salut) to enlighten the public on this important question.



 Other brief headlines from AHP/ Radio Solidarité (for the full stories in French or Kreyol please visit www.ahphaiti.org):


** Several cities in the Dominican Republic were rocked Wednesday around 1PM by two strong tremors (registering 4 and 4.1 on the Richter Scale), causing some panic. 

** A training seminar organized by the Haitian government was held Tuesday in Port-au-Prince for 30 mental health professionals. The training focused on diagnosing and treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, particularly among earthquake survivors. Similar training sessions are planned for other regions of the country.

** The Haitian government reported that as of March 11, about 50% of Haitians in need have received emergency shelter – up from 41% the previous week.  

** Several French athletes have promised to send athletic equipment and other assistance to re-start sports programs for Haitian youth in the aftermath of the earthquake. The effort is spearheaded by former champion hurdler Stéphane Diagana and football star Emmanuel Petit.

** Several cases of violent crime have been reported recently. Rony Dieudonné, a former advisor to the Haitian government and the Haitian police,  was shot dead last Friday in downtown Port-au-Prince. That same day, Pastor Rony Dieudonné, was killed in the vicinity of Fermathe. The Haitian police shot dead two teen agers who were reportedly fleeing by motorcycle after robbing and shooting a woman who is said to have been a university employee carrying a bag of money to the bank. The woman was said to be suffering from a severe head wound.