Originally: Haitian prime minister highlights interim government’s achievements

Radio Galaxie: The government of Prime Minister Gerard Latortue yesterday presented its first assessment speech since coming to power. Through Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, the government has given itself full marks for the progress it has made so far. As examples, the Haitian prime minister mentioned the Donors’ Conference which was held in Washington in 2004 and the relaunching of relations between the international community and the country, which were considerably disrupted under the government of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. If we are to believe Latortue, the international community’s approach to the Haitian case is tangible evidence that the results are satisfactory. The struggle against corruption is going well so far. The country’s governance has never been so good, Latortue was happy to say. Let us listen to him:

We are managing the country honestly

Well, oiling the machine has taken time. Many people thought I would go slowly. But I always reply that they must not confuse speed with haste.

By the way, tonight, I am very happy to tell the Haitian people that the results we have had are extremely encouraging. The country’s economic governance has never been as good. We have seen the expression, the support we get from everywhere through what happened at the World Bank in Washington on January 6, when for the first time since 1996 the World Bank agreed to release funds to Haiti. We had been completely set aside. They said that these people can only steal. No matter what amount of money you give them, they misuse it.

Today, while talking to you here, I will not stop myself from telling you that I have just received a report on a meeting held yesterday at the IMF where for the first time all IMF member countries praised the government for the honesty with which it is managing the country. The country’s money is not being stolen. The state’s receipts have increased. We are trying not to misuse funds. Whereas the coffers were empty when we came yesterday, today we have many reserves after paying all the debts we accumulated during all the years of mismanagement. We have paid all our arrears to the IMF.

I will give the press in particular the speech the French delegate gave at the IMF and in which he asked the IMF to recognize and to state clearly that what happened in Haiti is due to the fact that today there is in Haiti a government which Haiti never had before, a serious and honest government which is managing the country properly. He even said that the IMF took too much time before it intervened to give us the first loan.

Today, we have at our disposal more than $90 million that is immediately available. I have to tell you that a great portion of this money has already arrived at the Central Bank. I verified this afternoon that a first instalment of $46 million arrived at the Central Bank.All this is the expression of the international community’s solidarity with a government that is managing the country’s business properly.

Good economic management will lead to social development

Here is something else that I would like to tell you. During the year 2005, we will make a greater effort as far as it is concerned. It is the public-private partnership. The private sector and the government cannot live like cats and dogs. We must get along, because the government does some things whereas the private sectors have other things to do.

During all my discussions with the private sector, I will think of creating an economic and social council. This council will include people from the government, civil society, the private sector, the unions and representatives of the peasants so that we can find places to sit and talk about our economic problems, so we can talk about the economic policy we should set up to nevertheless increase the welfare of the Haitian people.

I am talking to you about economic issues. However, we cannot forget social issues. Some people believe that the government is not sensitive to social issues. I would like to tell them that this is not true. But before getting to social issues, you must create an economic basis which can generate revenues so you can do the social action, because the social action costs money and we did not have the money. Today, thanks to the good management of the country’s economy – I must pay special tribute to Minister Henri Bazin who is a great minister, who is doing a great job at the Ministry of  Finance – we have enough reserves to tackle social issues.

We will clean up the government

We are able to make an assessment today. Who wants to work as a civil servant? Or who is using his or her position in the state to defend other interests? There is no problem. All those who do not defend the interests of the state – note that I do not say the interests of the government but instead the interests of the state – all those who are not competent and all those who are corrupt will not have a place in this government that we have. We will take the opportunity to clean it up before the arrival of the next government.

We in the government have a very clear notion of what national dialogue is. By the way, even before I became prime minister, when I used to write about Haitians’ problems, I always prioritized the necessity of a get-together among all Haitians regardless of whether they are rich or poor, black or mulatto, Catholic or Protestant, voodoo people or members of any other religions, so that they can sit down together to determine what kind of Haiti they want for tomorrow, what democracy they want, what policy should be set up for the protection of the country’s environment, what policy should be applied to raise the educational level of the country, what policy should be used so all Haitians can have access to public health. Well, we will choose to discuss these big issues, these themes in the national dialogue.

So far, I have asked a great Haitian, Professor Micha Gaillard, to lead an exploratory mission for us, to bring out the theme as to where we are going. But everyone has in their mind what they call national dialogue. Professor Gaillard gave us his report. I believe that his work is almost over after he gave this report. Now we are going to see how to set up a national dialogue committee.

Haiti cannot wait for foreign funds

Another big problem we have is the problem of infrastructure for development in the country. Ladies and gentlemen, our country is almost totally destroyed. There is no place in this country where you can find roads.

Well, we in this government have decided to inaugurate a big road programme. We hope to finish at least these two roads before we go next year. One of them is the Carrefour Road through the rails. How is it possible that to cover twelve kilometers here in Port-au-Prince, it can take about an hour if not more? Well, the work has already begun – with the help of MINUSTHA,  with the help of the Taiwanese government, with the help of the Canadian government and with funds from the Haitian government. The work has begun and we will finish it before we go.

I am announcing tonight for the first time that this road was supposed to be financed by the Inter-American Development Bank. When I received the information regarding all the procedures, I realized that we would not be able to start before July, August, or September This morning, I convened the public works minister, the finance minister and the secretary of state for finance in my office. We decided that given that we have our own reserves today, we cannot just cross our arms and wait for money to be brought to us before we do something important for the country. So, we have decided to assume the responsibility of starting work on this road.

Part of the budget assistance that was supposed to be given to us by the European Union, I have invited them to come to my office on Friday so we can get about $16 million dollars, so that the road can start at the beginning of February. It will take us nearly eleven months to complete. When we celebrate the 202nd anniversary of our independence on  January 1, 2006,  Inshallah! May God hear us and allow this road to be finished. We will do it with our own means. I believe that  Haiti faces major problems and if we do not get the support we expected, there is no other solution, we must tighten our belts, decide what we want and then use our resources to do it.