In a letter detailing the main points in the draft 2022/23 budget, Prime Minister Ariel Henry painted a picture of an economy that does not seem to have a bright future, at least in the short term. The letter noted that despite the short-lived hope produced by the first months of the current calendar year, the country will record its fourth consecutive year of economic recession and difficult socio-economic outlook. While there were early signs that the overall economy looked positive in the earlier part of the year, both internal and external factors have conspired to dash the hope, leading to projections of negative 4% growth instead of the 0.3% that was projected earlier. The culprits here are not difficult to locate. The increasingly growing control of gangs across the country, marked by increasing cases of kidnappings for ransom and lack of access to other parts of the country crippled the movement of goods and services. Insecurity further crippled key projects proposed for the past fiscal year which were not implemented and as a result the impact will be severely felt in such areas as agriculture and infrastructure development as well as in the construction sectors, subsequently impacting the most vulnerable sectors of the Haitian economy. 

The global economic meltdown stemming from the dual problems of the pandemic and the current war in the Ukraine has created an environment where energy prices led the way for increasing prices in basic products. Public revenue remains extremely limited according to the Prime Minister, as the country is among the worst performers worldwide in terms of revenue mobilization. This poor performance is exacerbated by corruption, the informal sector, smuggling, the delay in digitization of our tax and customs administrations, and the low level of tax compliance among taxpayers. This situation reduces the government’s ability to respond to social emergencies and the demands of economic development, as resources mobilized often remain insufficient to cover current expenses. Similarly, investments which are essential for growth, are being sacrificed year after year. The Prime Minister charges all to do their best to improve the revenue collection for the tax and customs sector. For the month of June, revenues collected by both the tax and customs departments reached 83,4bn gourdes, which represents 69% of the projected revenue in the 2021/22 fiscal year. As for expenditure, subsidies on petroleum products continue to eat away at the state revenue, while public investments declined. In what can be termed a disillusioned optimism, the Prime Minister concluded that despite the constraints imposed by the socio-political and economic environment, the government intends to restore macroeconomic stability and growth, and strengthen the economic policy frameworks with a set of realistic measures. 

Meanwhile, in a statement posted on the website of the Organization of American States (OAS) by the General Secretariat on August 8, 2022, the organization recognized that the institutional crisis facing the nation is a direct result of actions taken by the country’s endogenous forces and by the international community. The organization looks back at 20 years of the international community’s presence in the country and concluded that this was a failure, no because those who went there to help are somehow to blame, quite the contrary, their altruism and desire to help were all well placed but the failure has to do with erratic political strategy by the international community that was incapable of facilitating the construction of a single institution with the capacity to address the problems facing the people and after 20 years, not a single institution is stronger than it was before. The international community’s performance is what led to the proliferation of the criminal gangs that lay siege to the country, effectively becoming more powerful than the state and its security apparatus.

OAS further stated that seeing its failure, the international community left Haiti, leaving chaos, destruction, and violence behind, and right now, it is absurd to think that in this context of destruction, the Haitians—left completely alone, polarized, and with very few resources—would be able to rebuild or build the kind of security, deinstitutionalization, and development project that could enable its 12 million inhabitants to once again live in peaceful coexistence: Without resources, in a climate of violence, without technological capabilities, and without financial accumulation. Any suggestion that an entirely endogenous Haitian solution could prosper, is mere folly. Without the basic conditions of democracy and security, the country today is suffering from the international community’s lack of ideas and real capacity, as well as from its own structural problems. The international community was not sure if MINUSTAH should stay in place or be removed, or that contributing money was the same as having ideas, and that paying its own consultants would solve Haitians’ problems, none of which worked. The statement went on to point out some of the preconditions that if instituted could lead to a sustainable peace. Since the society is very vulnerable and polarized, with weak institutions and organizations, any attempt at rebuilding the nation must reduce the polarization, build capacities and institutions while building bridges between Haitians, through dialogue. The statement went on to include justice for the assassinated president Jovenel Moise and all the other conditions that have been bandied about for a while now, including these three points: 1. An institutionalized and inclusive process of dialogue that includes all the political forces that can possibly be brought together for it. Within that process, the international community can contribute resources and build bridges between the stakeholders to strengthen all of them and place them on a path towards building organizational and institutional capacities; 2. A trustworthy, fair, transparent electoral process, and 3. An institutional security process for the country.

Finally, the assassination and burning to death of the former senator and head of the entity responsible for public housing, l’Entreprise Publique de Promotion de Logements Sociaux L’EPPLS, Yvon Buissereth last past Saturday at the upscale neighborhood of Laboule in Petionville has shocked a lot of people in a country where killings have become commonplace. Workers at the agency were saddened to hear of his gruesome demise as they know him as a very approachable person, leader and mentor to some. Also 

a sailboat overloaded with people from Haiti arrived in the shallow waters of the middle Florida Keys on Monday evening. Their arrival comes just two days after a group of more than 300 people arrived in a sailboat that grounded off the exclusive Ocean Reef resort community in north Key Largo. Adam Hoffner, division chief for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Miami operations, said agents took 109 people into custody who left the vessel. The Coast Guard said in a statement released on Twitter Tuesday that 14 people stayed on the boat, and those people are in that agency’s custody.

Dela Harlley

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