Greater Georgetown, Guyana – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is to provide direct financial support to Haiti in recognition of the importance of channelling resources through the government of Haiti and as a demonstration of the Community’s confidence in the Haitian government.
The Community is also calling on the international community to demonstrate a greater level of confidence in Haiti to move its reconstruction process forward.
Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica and Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government speaking at a press conference at the conclusion of the 21st Intersessional Meeting of the CARICOM Leaders, warned that without funding being channeled to the government of Haiti to conduct its rebuilding, the peace required to move the country forward may be absent since the situation can be exacerbated by social and political unrest.
The Community is hoping to raise about US$6M. His Excellent Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana said that the Community was more than likely to revise its health initiative to take into account the more immediate needs of Haiti.
Member States have, however, pledged separate sums of money to Haiti that could exceed the US$6M figure.
In February 2010 the Community made health its primary focus in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake which struck Haiti on 12 January. At the request of Haiti, the Community’s Mission had shifted its operations to Leogane, a Community on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
But on Friday, following discussions with His Excellency Rene Preval, President of Haiti, the Conference decided that it would provide direct support to Haiti to help bridge the budgetary gap.
President Preval told representatives of the media earlier on Friday that there was need for budgetary support to the tune of US$350M and had sought CARICOM’s help in accessing the money from the International Financial Institutions (IFIs).
Haiti’s revenue base, President Preval indicated, had diminished by 80 per cent with the remaining 20 percent was enough to cover payment to only half of the public sector.
Haiti topped the Meeting’s formidable agenda and was at the centre of discussions during the exchanges with the President of the World Bank, the President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
According to Prime Minister Skerrit, the “frank exchanges” with the representatives of the international financial institutions included tax havens with the World Bank agreeing to be an “honest broker”; climate change, an area of critical importance to the Region; management of the Region’s debt; and water.
With regard to the water, Prime Minister Skerrit said that a joint meeting of the Councils for Trade and Economic Development and Human and Social Development will be held prior to the Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government n July, to assess the current drought situation and identify measures to be put in place to sustainably manage water.
Member States across the Region have been hard hit by a prolonged dry spell blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon.