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A week after the Kingston Talks, which saw Haitian political and civic organization leaders
assembled in the Jamaican capital to dialogue on ways to come together to address the pressing
problems that have crippled the country for so long, interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry
expressed his commitment to expand the transitional council, Haut Conseil de la transition
(HCT), start the process of constitutional review and his other conditions that he has been
speaking on in recent days. In a series of tweets from the Prime Minister who has been at the
helm of affairs for close to two years, he pledged to launch the process to review the constitution,
form a government of national unity and to work with members from the December 21 st
agreement in order to expand the composition of the transitional council so as to broaden the
coalition to cover all sectors of the society. He further tweeted that he would like to reiterate his
unshakeable will to do everything possible to restore security, seek ways to strengthen the
security forces and to set up a provisional electoral commission, CEP, that will meet the approval
of all, inspire confidence in the people so that the Haitian people will have a voice to elect their
leaders freely. But his record at the helm of affairs throughout leaves little to be desired. The
security situation only worsened and the relative calm that came after the Bwa Kale vigilante
justice took hold seem to have yielded to the return of the heavily armed criminal gangs. In
recent days, Vitelhomme Innocent’s gang has resumed attacks on residents and business, as
gunshots were heard yesterday on the road to Frères. Eyewitnesses reported kidnappings in
Torcel, and at least three kidnappings around Plaine du Cul-de-Sac. The Canaan gang also
resumed their activities unhinged in areas reputed to be controlled by the Chen Mechan gang.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s commitments thus are coming at a time when, following the
Kingston talks, several political parties expressed support for a bi-cephalous executive, one in
which the supreme power is shared between two leaders, but the details of such an executive are
not yet known, nor is there a name of an agreement or rapprochement of these political parties
with the signatories of the December 21 agreement.
Elsewhere, the IMF and World Bank gave a satisfactory review of the important reforms in the
public finance sector as evidenced in the staff monitoring program (SMP) that began since June

  1. According to the report, the reforms instituted by the government in regard to governance
    and the fight against corruption, tax administration, public financial management (including
    budget preparation and execution), autonomy and governance of the central bank and the fight
    against money laundering have improved the transparency of the of public expenditure and the
    financial sector and helped maintain macroeconomic stability in the country. These reforms,
    which also include the 2023 budget adopted by the Henry administration has led the country to
    pass the international financial establishment’s macroeconomic and financial reviews in a long
    time. The report indicated that the budget is in line with the objectives agreed under the SMP and
    in the context of a medium-term budgetary framework. In other words, the budget execution has
    been consistent with the SMP’s objective of reducing monetary financing of the fiscal deficit to
    levels that staff deem non-inflationary, since the Haitian government has taken a series of
    measures to strengthen revenue administration and boost revenue mobilization over time.
    However, any keen observer of the situation in the country would admit without cynicism that
    the good health of the financial economy recognized and lauded by the IMF, does not reflect the
    reality of the Haitian economy. Macroeconomic indicators speak a different language than that of
    the IMF. The cost of living in Haiti has been rising steadily for months. Indeed, in February and
    March 2023, inflation at an annual rate reached 48.2% and 48.3% respectively, worsening the

living condition of the average Haitian. In March 2023, the World Food Program (WFP)
identified approximately 4.9 million Haitians in a situation of food insecurity. The dollar
exchange rate is almost the only macroeconomic indicator that has been fluctuating downwards
on the foreign exchange market for about a month. After reaching 160 gourdes for one dollar, the
exchange rate is below 140 gourdes today.
Unfortunately, this downward trend in the exchange rate has not yet had any impact on the prices
of products, which are still on the rise, to the great dismay of consumers who are incessantly
awaiting a fall in prices which would corroborate the IMF forecast concerning inflation which
will reach 30% at the end of the current financial year. The situation is further aggravated by the
marauding and heavily armed gangs that are preventing the movement of people and goods
through the main arteries across the country, causing the women traders know as the Madan
Sara, to be able to go and buy their goods freely to come and sell in the market. These coupled
with the natural disasters that have faced the country in recent decades, floods, earthquakes, and
other extreme weather conditions have set the stage for a very contrasting reports on what
constitutes the real economic outlook for the country.
The true measure of the economic outlook is the economic growth. Here too, the country seems
to fare very unconvincingly. At the end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the economy recorded four
(4) consecutive years of negative growth, while this year, the IMF is projecting a 0.1% growth, a
rather optimistic outlook than that of the World Bank which projected a -1.1% growth last April
as the government itself was hoping for a 0.3% and CEPAL forecasts growth of 0.7%. When
asked about the economic situation, the economist Kesner Pharel, leader of the Group
Croissance argues that the financial economy alone is not sufficient to bring growth. With all the
discipline of following the IMF prescriptions, if there are no public investments, and private
investments, there will be no growth and if there’s no growth, companies will not be able to
operate. For the leader of Group Croissance, this good rating given by the IMF to the Haitian
government is like a poisoned gift, because it may create greater expectations from the people,
which risks confusing IMF data with the real situation on the ground and making more demands
on the authorities.
Finally, more than twenty civil society organizations have signed a letter addressed to the interim
PM Ariel Henry, and the transition council, HCT, calling on them to create a ministry of
environment and appoint a competent, patriotic, and avowed environmentalist with a strong
ecological commitment to head it. The designation of an environment minister, with the
necessary skills and qualifications, will help address the many environmental challenges, such as
deforestation, land degradation, water pollution and loss of biodiversity to which the country has
been confronted and to help resolve them effectively. Such an appointment of a competent and
ecologically committed Minister of the Environment will send a strong signal to the people and
the international community that there’s a commitment to protecting the natural heritage and
building a sustainable future.
Dela Harlley

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