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Patterson Calls For CARICOM To Support New Haitian Administration In Its Plan For Haiti Reconstruction

ST. KITTS – CARICOM Special Representative on Haiti and former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable PJ Patterson has urged the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government to maintain its support for Haiti as well as the priorities and processes President Michel Martelly had identified.

Mr Patterson was speaking at the recent CARICOM Heads of Government meeting which ended in St Kitts and Nevis on Monday.

He informed the other CARICOM leaders that he and President Martelly had a most productive meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis on Friday and are scheduled to meet again in Haiti shortly.

Mr Patterson, in presenting his report (July 2, 2011) on developments relating to Haiti since the Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference in Grenada in March, highlighted the successful completion of the Presidential and Legislative elections which allowed the Conference to welcome the democratically elected President, H.E. Michel Martelly. He drew attention to the pivotal role played by the Joint OAS-CARICOM Mission led by CARICOM’s Assistant Secretary –General, Foreign and Community Relations, Ambassador Colin Granderson.

Hon. PJ Patterson (file photo)

He commended the strengthening of the electoral process in Haiti and those who contributed to it, cautioning however, that there was much more to be done as Haiti had national elections every two years. He suggested that CARICOM with its vast experience in evolving electoral systems and processes continue to provide assistance in institutionalizing the systems for stability.

The former Jamaica Prime Minister stressed that collaborating and seeking to provide support to Haiti had been challenging in the last six month or so given the preoccupation with electoral matters and coping with the massive cholera outbreak. At the same time needs such as institutional building which Haiti had identified as crucial and to which CARICOM had committed its resources remained highly relevant. He reminded the CARICOM Heads that without the institutional capacity to act, none of the crucial processes including the provision of housing, debris removal and health service delivery, could be accomplished properly.

He pointed to some modest achievements, such as the commencement of the practical implementation of duty free entry for some Haitian products into other CARICOM markets and reiterated some key points on Haiti which had been developed out of the strategic meeting of the CARICOM Council in Guyana at the beginning of June.

The CARICOM Special Representative on Haiti advised speedy consultations with the new Haitian administration so CARICOM could expedite support the priorities identified. This was even more urgent, according to Mr Patterson, because the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC) which had been set up by the international donor community with Haiti, was due to conclude its mandate and dissolve at the end of October 2011.

Mr Patterson’s remarks followed on the announcement by President Martelly that he would meet with the CARICOM Representative before the end of July to solidify the support that Haiti would be seeking from CARICOM. Early indications from the Haitian President were that one area would be identified for urgent action and strong support from CARICOM, so that the success of the collaboration between Haiti and its CARICOM partners could be clearly established in the international community.

He praised the Haitian people for their adherence to the electoral process and commended CARICOM for its important participation in observer missions. He also commended the CARICOM Representation Office in Haiti (CROH) and its continued role in facilitating Haiti’s integration into the CSME. Haiti has been granted visa waiver by some seven countries for official and diplomatic passport holders and key business persons to strengthen their ability to do business with CARICOM. He stressed that more needs to be done in this area to which Haiti attached high priority.

The former Jamaica Prime Minister once again called for CARICOM to continue its advocacy role on behalf on Haiti in the International Community. He noted that the UN Security Council had adopted, at a meeting at which Mr Patterson spoke, a resolution by the government of Colombia which called for the International Community to “begin to transition, coordinate and orient more of its resources under Haiti’s leadership to the development confronting the country”. He advised that CARICOM advocacy was even more important at this time as the Haitian situation is being removed for the headlines of the international news media, replaced by other urgent global issues.

Mr Patterson further reminded CARICOM leaders that they had established a US $1 billion CARICOM Special Fund for Private Sector Investment in Haiti. He commended Haiti for pledging US$3 Million to the fund and noted that this had been welcomed by potential donor groups. He urged others who could do so to follow Haiti’s lead. The revolving fund will provide loans, not grants, of up to US$20 Million to the CARICOM firms investing in Haiti.

In closing, Mr Patterson reiterated that Haiti’s priorities and objectives must remain the guiding force behind its relationship with the International Community and CARICOM in the reconstruction of Haiti.

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