PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) — Irish Billionaire and top foreign investor in Haiti, Denis O’Brien, has hailed the business background brought by Haitian Prime minister Laurent Lamothe to the government he described as doing a good job and O’Brien said that the building blocks that the Caribbean country needs were now in place.
Denis O’Brien — who built a few years ago Haiti’s largest Telecom company, Digicel — said a lot of good things were happening in Haiti under the leadership of president Michel Martelly and Prime minister Lamothe.
“Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe brings a business background to government and I think that is a major plus,” O’Brien said on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting, in New York last month.
O’Brien said the country’s 10 million people have had a bad government up until recently.
“Haiti has actually made its time in history. It has a good government,” explained O’Brien. “The building blocks that Haiti needs are now in place,” he said.
The Irish investor and philanthropist, whose socially conscious Digicel company has built and donated dozens of schools and computer labs with high-speed internet throughout Haiti, saluted the decision by Haitian authorities to increase from 2% to 5% the country’s budget for education.
O’Brien also mentioned the decision by the Martelly/Lamothe government to set a large social assistance program to help the poor.
” They brought new thinking in terms of making micro-payments to those living under the poverty line,” he said. “This has reduced extreme poverty from a high of 31% in 1991 to 24% in today’s terms,” O’Brien explained.
Acknowledging current trends showing that Haiti is attracting more and more foreign direct investments, O’Brien believes the Caribbean country needed to continue to attract new investments to create more jobs and fight unemployment, he said, is around 40% to 45%.
“The economy has grown about 4.5%. There are a lot of good things happening in Haiti. They just need a spurge,” he explained.