Haiti Special Coordinator Thomas C. Adams
Cheryl Benton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
Ambassador Liliana Ayalde, U.S. Agency for International Development Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean
His Excellency Louis Harold Joseph, Ambassador of the Republic of Haiti
Each of us has looked at Haiti over the last couple of years and been struck in many ways by what we have seen and what the Haitian people have gone through since the tragic earthquake of 2010. It called forth both the world’s deep concern and generosity. The Department of State and USAID have been marshaling and leveraging resources and programs to make a difference in Haiti and we have been working with you, keeping in touch with the Haitian Diaspora and the business and humanitarian communities through a series of briefings, conference calls, and workshops. Which actually brings us here today.
I know the Secretary is still in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly. I was just chatting for a minute with the Haitian Coordinator, Tom Adams. He just got back yesterday morning, and I just got in late last night. So we hope that A, this conference gives you an overview of the state of play in Haiti and the U.S. Government’s role and the international community’s support. And B, it also gives you a chance to talk to us about what is on your mind and hopefully helping you get through some of the overarching issues that help you better do business in Haiti.
With the whole of government approach that President Obama has asked us to do as we approach how we are leading in Haiti, we wanted to bring all of these resources together, talk with you about what’s going on, and we are delighted to have with us this morning to chat with you for a few minutes the Honorable Ambassador Joseph Antone Adams. But before we go on and before I introduce a short bio I want to give you a few ground rules or housekeeping rules. …
Tom Adams was named Special Coordinator for Haiti in September 2010 by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. In this capacity he oversees U.S. Government engagement with Haiti including diplomatic relations and the implementation of a reconstruction strategy in partnership with the government of Haiti.
Ambassador Louis Harold Joseph, His Excellency Louis Harold Joseph, Ambassador of the Republic of Haiti, earned his Bachelor’s degree at the State University of Haiti and his Master’s from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He served as Haiti’s Ambassador to the Bahamas before coming to the United States as Ambassador a year ago.
Can you please put your hands together and first of all welcome Haiti Coordinator Tom Adams.
HAITI SPECIAL COORDINATOR THOMAS C. ADAMS: Thank you. Good morning.
Another reason we don’t want you wandering around the building is most of this building was built during the high point of American architecture, the Eisenhower Administration, and it is probably one of the ugliest government buildings in Washington. That’s another reason for you not to wander around.
Seriously, good morning to everyone. I want to thank DAS Benton and her staff for helping arrange this conference. A conference like this is a lot of work. I also want to salute Lisa Hibbard-Simpson of my staff who I think is outside preparing lunch for you all, but she has done a great job too on this. I also want to thank Ambassador Joseph for agreeing to come and help us here today.
On behalf of the many people here at the State Department and USAID and especially the ones that focus on our commitment to the people of Haiti, welcome here today.
It’s a real pleasure for me to welcome so many representatives of the Haitian-American community, many of whom I’ve met in my travels around the United States, and they have come here from really all over the country to join today’s conference and to discuss how we can work together for a better future for Haiti.
I also welcome the representatives here from the business sector, non-governmental organizations that work tirelessly in Haiti, church groups, Congress and the diplomatic community. It gives me great hope to see so many bright, energetic people whose dedication to Haiti is vital to Haiti’s future.
As we all know, Haiti is an important neighbor of the United States. We share a long and not always happy history, but in recent time it has been a history of partnership and we want to continue that relationship today, working side by side to rebuild Haiti into a stronger, more democratic and more vibrant country whose progress was interrupted by the devastating earthquake last January.
The earthquake took the lives of thousands of people and did immense physical damage to Port-au-Prince and its surroundings. In addition, it caused thousands of Haitians to leave their homes, towns, and even their country, taking with them economic capacity and knowledge that Haiti struggles to replace today.
What the earthquake did not do was damage the resiliency and the determination of the Haitian people. In the 21 months since the earthquake Haiti has impressed the world with its drive to recover and rebuild. It renewed its commitment to democracy by insisting the voices of the Haitian people be heard in two rounds of elections. Business owners have opened their doors and new entrepreneurs are finding opportunities in agriculture, tourism and construction. Foreign investors have capitalized on Haiti’s potential by allocating millions to open factories and create jobs. Artists continue to create masterpieces, doctors and nurses treat the ill, and children are back in school.
The U.S. has joined with other governments, NGOs and international organizations to provide billions of dollars in assistance to clear rubble, build new homes, and do many other things to help Haiti get back on track. More importantly, the American people, people like you who saw the devastation and wanted to help, have contributed greatly to recovery and reconstruction. In the successful “text for Haiti” donation campaign via cell phones in this country an estimated one out of every two American families contributed to help Haiti, demonstrating our commitment to assist our neighbor in time of great need and despair.
The special role of the Diaspora of any country and especially that of Haitian Americans, is that you bring knowledge and expertise about your country of origin that is invaluable to the reconstruction efforts. You bring a passion and determination to help people back home and have already selflessly volunteered, fundraisers, and traveled to Haiti to assist in the work on the ground. For these reasons and many your presence here today represents a vital part of Haiti’s emergence from the specter of the earthquake.
I hope you find today’s conference useful in learning more about how you can join in concretely supporting our efforts to assist the government of Haiti and others in rebuilding that country and to find ways in which we can work together to help the people of
Haiti realize their dreams for a brighter future.
My best wishes to you, and again, thank you all for coming.
HIS EXCELLENCY LOUIS HAROLD JOSEPH, AMBASSADOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF HAITI: Madame Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Cheryl Benton; Mr. Special Coordinator for Haiti at the State Department, Ambassador Thomas Adams; my fellow Haitians; ladies and gentlemen.
It gives me great pleasure to participate this morning in the opening of this conference on Partnership for the Future of Haiti. This [incentive] once again showed how the U.S. administration and the State Department are committed to accompanying Haitians in their effort to develop their country. Thus ensuring a better tomorrow for a future generation, a country where all Haitians will be able to live decently in accordance with their basic right.
Cooperation between Haiti and the United States of America has been greatly streamlined by a more marked concern for coordination and harmonization in the implementation of programs. The Secretary of State’s interest for the Haitian Diaspora is well known, before we understand and appreciate the effort of the State Department to involve the Haitian Diaspora in the reconstruction and development of the country.
From the Haitian states [inaudible], a large step was taken at the institutional level. April 20th marked the first celebration of National Diaspora Day which was enacted by presidential decree in the Council of Ministers of March 16, 2011. This national day will now allow a new context for more fraternal relations and cooperation between Haitians living abroad and those remaining at home. It will also allow Haiti to clearly recognize the contribution that these citizens living abroad make toward the material survival of the country.
I welcome the presence here this morning of all Haitian and non-Haitian companies and businesses. I am convinced that the synergy, be it in terms of technical skill and financial contribution is not only a major asset for reconstruction, but may also have a visible impact on the human landscape to full capacity building.
Often we refer to Haiti as a country where the middle class is smaller in numbers or almost non-existent. This represents a serious handicap in economic and social development of the country. However, Haiti has a vibrant middle class living outside the country.
As a matter of fact, for more than 50 years the economic, political and social condition of the country have pushed Haitians to order welcoming and adopted lands where they have demonstrated strength, skill and expertise. Now is the time, especially in this post-earthquake context to [reunite] minimal condition for transfer, even partial, of this vast pool of assets to meet the challenges of under-development in Haiti.
The contribution of the Diaspora to the land, to the homeland, is enormous. Annual transfers to relatives and friends reach over $2 billion which represent about a third of the national budget. The brothers and sisters in Haiti and the government are grateful, but would also appreciate having support in rebuilding the country, either through direct investment or by using their experience to serve the country.
We know that it is very difficult to ask members of the Diaspora to return and live in Haiti when the conditions that forced them to leave the country have not improved or may even have deteriorated. However, they can already enter into joint venture with persons living in the country or do voluntary work in Haiti for a period of one to four weeks in an area of their competence or choice.
If I stick to the title of the conference it suggests that we are going to explore together how private companies -- non-profit or not -- may work with the American administration to contribute to our reconstructing, rebuilding the country. I would like on behalf of all Haitians, Haitian-Americans and members of the embassy here present as well as all investors who realize the potential and opportunities for developing Haiti to thank the State Department for having taken this important initiative. This initiative will certainly strengthen the vital links that thankfully exist between Haitians living inside the country and abroad and develop them for the greater good of the Haitian nation.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: Great. Thank you so much, Ambassador. We’re going to now move into our first panel. There’s Lisa. You need to give her a round of applause. She conceived of this and she literally put this together, so we’re happy to have Lisa here.
Thank you so much, Ambassador for joining us.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: I’m delighted to be joined here today by Ambassador Ayalde. For those of you who have been working for a while on Haiti, she is the new Paul Weisenfeldt, and Paul made great contributions. She’s a better-looking version of Paul though, I should add. So thank you, Liliana for joining us today.
I thought it would be useful if each of us talked for a few minutes about where the U.S. Government strategy is and then perhaps if there’s time open it up for some questions here today. We probably aren’t going to be able to answer everybody’s question given the number of people here, but we’ll do our best to get some interaction going here today.
I think we’re having some technical difficulties, but let me begin anyway.
Basically the U.S. Government after the earthquake had really three pots of money that became available to it. The first was about $1.1 billion of emergency funding through the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. That was deployed in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. And a lot of that money went into immediate food, water, sanitation efforts, rubble removal. There’s still some of it left being spent today.
The second pot of money was our regular annual appropriation for Haiti of about $400 million of development assistance. That too has been largely committed.
The third pot of money was a supplemental appropriation passed by the U.S. Congress. Again, confusingly, also about $1.1 billion. That is much of the money that we are doing today, was three year money passed by Congress. Although by the time we got it it was really two year money, so really that has to be spent by the end of the next fiscal year.
There was a Donors Conference last March in New York where we pledged just the supplemental, new money. The conference was for the new money. So we pledged the $1.1 billion of the new money that the President was going to ask Congress for, and Congress, which is very supportive of Haiti, there’s large bipartisan support on the Hill for Haiti, passed it and that was pledged along with about $9 billion from other countries. I point that out, the United States is only about 10 percent of the money available for Haiti there. So those of you who are looking for contracts and grants bear in mind that, look elsewhere. And today we’re going to have people talk about the World Bank and the IDB and some of the IFIs and how you might partner with them on this money.
Next slide, please.
The United States engaged in developing a strategy for Haiti. It was a whole of government effort. It took a while. Our strategy was put out last January. It’s on our web site, all 90 pages of it. If you have trouble sleeping at night please go look at the details. But basically we want to work in four pillars -- infrastructure and energy, food and economic security, health and other basic services, and governance and rule of law.
We also are working in three geographic areas. Some of our programs we’re working country-wide. Some of our health programs we work country-wide of course on combatting AID and childhood diseases, but in those three corridors we’re going to concentrate on refurbishing health clinics, regional hospitals. We’re going to take a special effort, and I’ll show you those in fact next slide, please.
Here are our development corridors. As you see up north around Cap-Haitien is one. Also in the west, a little bit of the Artibonite. And to the east of Port-au-Prince. These are three watershed areas and they were chosen in part because they are rich agricultural areas in Haiti and we are investing a lot of money in agriculture. Haiti has not really increased their agricultural production in the last 30 or 40 years. Very few investments in there. Meanwhile the population has doubled. Haiti now imports about 52 percent of its food. And it’s actually quite easy to increase farmer income by two or three times with fairly modest new techniques and inputs and AID has several great programs in this area which were already underway before the earthquake and have now been reinforced and accelerated. Liliana will probably talk a little bit about those.
When I talk to Diaspora groups around the country I get, I’m from Les Cayes or Jacmel. How come you’re ignoring my part of the country? And there are other donors who work in the south -- Canadians, Spaniards and others. And a lot of our programs do work in the entire country. But again, I think all of us who have worked in development for years realize it’s better to do a few things well than to try to be all things to all people. So there are some areas in Haiti that we are leaving to other donors. You should be aware of that.
Next slide, please.
Here are a couple of ways we are helping to really stimulate business and jobs in Haiti. People ask me sometimes, what’s the single thing Haiti needs most? As you know, Haiti needs lots of things. Their education system is broke. Their health system is poor. They need strengthening of their government institutions. They need help with police, prisons, the courts, you name it. But I think the thing Haiti really need most is jobs. Polls of Haitians show that what they want most is a job. I think at the end of the day that really is our overarching goal and we are accomplishing this in a number of areas.
One is to take advantage of the Help Act. We are putting in a large industrial park up north which is scheduled to open in March. There are a lot of pieces to it. We’re providing power. We’re working with the IDP. There’s private investment, housing, power, water, sanitation. It’s a big effort but I think it will make a big difference in Haiti.
This is not going to be the low-end textile business. It’s going to be an integrated facility. They’re going to make cloth there. They’re going to make the more expensive clothing that you pay for at the fancy stores here. Those of you who don’t work for the government who can afford the fancy stores. And it will create real jobs and sustainable jobs.
I’ve already mentioned agriculture. Tourism is a big area of potential which we’re not working in heavily but the World Bank is and other donors are. Then I think in Port-au-Prince itself where a lot of the business of Haiti is centered, there are needs to really change the business system which in many ways is archaic. President Martelly in New York made this a point of his recent visit by talking about the need to really modernize the business cycle. He’s going to make it easier to get construction permits, make it easier to establish business, working with parliament on passing new laws.
Another area in Haiti is lack of capital for new businesses. The banks are awash with cash but they don’t do much banking there. If you want a loan, if you’re a Haitian business and you want a loan you pay a high interest rate. You only get the money for short term. And you have to pretty much provide 100 percent collateral.
Haiti needs new businesses, new entrepreneurs, and right now it’s very hard for a new business to start there. We have a number of programs to, along with other donors, to try to change that.
Next slide, please.
Here are some methods we’re employing to improve economic opportunity in Haiti. We’re going to talk more about this later.
Immediately after the earthquake part of our emergency money went into helping small businesses, little shops that had their inventories wiped out, to restock their shelves and start working, money. We’re moving up to larger businesses, medium businesses. The average size of some of the loans under these programs is $50,000. So we’re trying to move up the food chain and provide capital, but there’s more that can be done there.
Next slide, please.
I think we are also helping, if you read, there are a number of reports on Haiti. There’s a very large one by the Rand Corporation which I can summarize in one sentence. It’s like 140 pages. But basically it says the key job in Haiti is to increase the capacity of the Haitian government. The Haitian government, their capacity was not strong even before the earthquake, as I think most of you know. Probably at least 15 percent of government workers were killed during the earthquake and these were the ones who were still at work at 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon. Another perhaps as many as 20 percent of government workers who had visas just took off and are living in Montreal or Miami. So there’s a great need to rebuild the Haitian government, and I know President Martelly is concerned about being able to attract new people and wants to increase salaries and revitalize the government.
We and other donors are glad to help with that. Where we have invested money, like in the Ministry of finance and the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture there have been some very good results. The Haitian government has capable people, it just needs more of them. One of our tasks going forward is to increase that, not just for the executive branch of government, but we also have programs to help parliament, now that it’s back in operation, we have a parliamentary strengthening program. We also are almost finished completing a temporary parliamentary building that USAID is funding. And we also have programs to strengthen the judiciary branch, the prisons, try to clean out the prisons of the prisoners who shouldn’t be there and strengthen the Haitian National Police.
Haiti has more governmental revenue coming in. Donors have provided budget support. We have wiped out their debt. Their revenues through customs are much higher than anticipated, and actually their economy did not shrink as much as feared due to the earthquake. However going forward their growth is not going to be as much this year as we had anticipated, and the main reason for that is a lack of foreign direct investment. One of the main reasons for the lack of foreign direct investment in Haiti has been really investors are scared.
As former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Ruben once said, “A capitalist is a coward and if they sense political instability capitalists will take their money elsewhere.”
I think the good news is with the Lower House approving Gary Conille to be Prime Minister and the Senate perhaps taking him up today, that instability will end. The Senate has proposed candidates for the six court vacancies so there’s a chance of getting the judiciary established with a supervisory and administrative powers that are vastly needed. So I think this is all good and really gives a chance for a new beginning for Haiti. The government. But again, we need to work with them to strengthen government and start attacking some of the problems that haven’t been addressed like land tenure issues and other things that as you know block economic development there.
That’s it. I hope I haven’t put you to sleep, but in case I have, Liliana will certainly wake you up.
AMBASSADOR LILIANA AYALDE, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT SENIOR DEPUTY ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR FOR LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: Bonjour. I’m very pleased to be here. As mentioned earlier, I’m new to the job but I’m really captivated by the passion, certainly the challenge, and I hope that my 30-some years of experience in development and my commitment to making things work, to look for solutions, to take advantage of these moments to move things in the right direction. I think that’s the exciting thing about this position I’m in, to try to capture all the resources that we have to enlarge this partnership.
It’s a tremendous challenge and we need as many partners in this as we can get so I think this conference is very important to share some of the information, and I’ll elaborate in certain aspects that Tom has gone through because I think the more information that’s out there the better our work will be. It really is a huge challenge, and Haiti has not only been hit with this devastating earthquake but there were other challenges before the earthquake and some that have come afterwards that we’re all trying to find solutions for. So we need all of you to work this.
I thought I’d start by updating some progress made. Sometimes we tend to focus on the issues, but I think that there are some things that have advanced. Even though I only have about ten days, two weeks in the job, I was able to go with our Administrator to Haiti last week. It is, as you know, one of our highest priorities, development priorities, and certainly in our bureau it is “the” highest priority so I wanted to make sure I went out there as soon as possible.
There are things that are moving. Of course there’s much more to do, but I did want to go through some of these quick updates to share with you along the different rubrics that we’ve been working.
As you know this is critical for any reconstruction and it’s also, in terms of a feel of movement, you want that rubble removed, but it’s a lot of rubble. It’s ten million cubic meters of rubble. Four million has been removed with the help of the international community, of which the U.S. Government’s portion has been more than two million cubic meters.
On the health side, we’ve been able to with the U.S. Government as a whole immunize more than one million Haitians in very highly contagious diseases such as diphtheria and polio.
In terms of shelter, which I know is an issue that many are looking at and concerned about, together with the international community we have constructed more than 89,700 transitional shelters, the T-shelters, which are enough to house about 448,000 displaced Haitians. The U.S. Government portion of this has been about 31 percent, more than 28,000 in shelters.
On the cholera epidemic, we continue to respond to it, ensuring the treatment of those who have been infected by this disease, trying to expand the promotion of prevention activities including all sorts of different kind of education on hygiene and so forth as well as providing the essential supplies.
There are a lot of rumors about what is available and what is not. Right now in country there are resources available to treat more than 100,000 cases, and CDC or Centers for Disease Control, have a surveillance system and network in place to watch over what is happening with the disease. Over the last two weeks we can say that the case fatality rate has decreased and is not averaging one percent.
The supplies are there. We have supplied oral rehydration salt packets, ringers, lactate, soap and calcium hypochlorite. These supplies have been distributed among seven different warehouses throughout the country. They’re available free of charge for any NGO or other entities that are recognized and that have a need for them. This is something that we’ll continue to monitor and work on because it’s contained but we have to continue to make sure that all the resources are there and there’s not a slippage.
On the ag side, we have helped more than 10,000 farmers double their yields in crops like corn and beans. We’re continuing to do that in a much more robust way and you’ll be hearing more about that.
These are sort of in general some of the updates.
Let me turn a little bit to expand on the strategy. We’re in the implementation phase. I think it’s important to remember that, because I hear a lot you’re not doing this, you’re not doing that. Up front I’d like to say that it really is Haiti’s responsibility and we want to make sure that we’re supporting Haitians. I’m very very strong believer in that the U.S. Government has to partner as equals. We’re supportive, and we need to take advantage of this opportunity to rebuild Haiti so that it can be sustainable and that our assistance doesn’t make Haiti more dependable. So that takes a little bit more time. In making sure that our assistance, of course there’s humanitarian assistance and that has to go in quickly, but right now we have to look at everything from the prism of making sure that it provides the Haitians and the Haitian government the tools so that the programs that we are supporting and the international community is supporting can be sustainable in the long run. We want the follow-up to continue. So this is an important principle to keep in mind, and it’s sometimes frustrating, and it’s very easy for us to do it. But it’s more important and I think more worthwhile if we are able to transfer that technology, that know-how to the Haitians. That’s where all of you are very important and very critical to this job.
That is another principle that sometimes is a bit hard. Like Tom mentioned, why aren’t you here and why aren’t you there. We can’t be everywhere and our resources are limited. It’s only ten percent of the total pot. Therefore we have to focus. The analysis has gone into where we as the U.S. Government, as USAID, can have the best advantage and can be more competitive. That’s why these corridors have been selected and why these sectors have been selected.
We could be doing everything, but then the impact is less, it’s diluted, there will be a lot of frustration because you won’t be able to see as much. So I think it’s very important to focus and we ask for your help in helping us maintain that focus so that investment can be actually developed into true results.
That’s why we’re targeting, and I think all of these principles will help in the long run make our assistance more long term and have a deeper impact.
We have focused on investing where we think we can have the most value and where we can have more results.
Infrastructure is one of the sort of key sectors and within that we’re focusing on certain things. Obviously housing, energy and ports. We want to be able to decentralize Haiti. I understand that a lot of the issue that we had with the earthquake was that everything was focused in the capital. With that being gone, it was very difficult to grip back and pull back together. So we would like to be able to decentralize. That’s why you saw the emphasis in the corridors and the investment zones and so forth that we will be helping with rehabilitating five different electricity substations and this new award on the power plant in the north. And housing as well, to go along with some of the areas.
Food security and economic security is the other sector. We want to be able to create an environment that allows Haiti to become self-sufficient both in food production and economic growth. A little bit of that has been mentioned. I was able to see some of the farmers that have already seen a tremendous increase in their yields of rice. There are programs capitalizing on connections with universities, University of Miami, for instance, where some of the technology will be transferred. Better high yield seeds, better techniques, better practices. The knowledge is there, we just need to transfer it. So as soon as they capture it, I was talking to one of the farmers and he was saying that already in six months he’s seen a change. This is contagious. As farmers see the technology being used, it’s exciting because you just need to give them the tools and the know-how and I think that is spreading.
Also through increased credit to small businesses, we’ll be doing more of that. Availability of housing, financing, which is critical.
On the services side, the health and other services, we will continue working on health, but more in the health service delivery with the, obviously we’d like to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Health to provide for the care of their citizens in an equitable way, with quality. We include in our program the rehabilitation of a teaching hospital in Port-au-
Prince in collaboration with the government of France. This is a $25 million project that we hope to rebuild.
We’re also going to be emphasizing and focusing on education not across the board, but trying to improve the literacy of the younger age school kids by improving the teacher training so they can be more effective at teaching the young, and improving the standards and trying to get into the business of licensing the schools, which I understand there’s a whole slew of schools, different standards, and different qualities, and I think that would be a great benefit to the country in the future if there were some standard requirements and the teachers also have the tools that they need to do their work.
The last sector is in governance and rule of law. Very briefly, we want to help rebuild and reform the public administration so they can actually deliver services and manage resources in a transparent way. Haitians deserve the services. There is a long debt on this and I think what we can do, the best investment we can do is strengthen the capacity of the government to deliver the services. So in the long run, after these international resources are gone, those services can be delivered in an equitable way.
We will also be including programs to protect the rights of children, women and the youth, those who have been victimized and those who are at high risk. I know this touches the cord of many of you because we hear the cases of the women in the camps. I talked to three of the women mediators to try to get a feel for the burden, the risk, but I was also really impressed with their dedication. These are volunteers who are risking their lives, and we’d like to help give them the tools that they need, the training that they need to be able to mediate, to be able to lessen the burden also on the justice system which is overflowing.
That leads me to the other point which we’re trying to work with the judicial system to try to improve the court operations. There’s a tremendous backlog. I also went to the prison. It’s dramatic. I think anything we can do with the judicial system to try to address some of its issues I think in the long run as well will be of benefit to Haiti and to the Haitians.
In doing all of this I can’t help but remind everyone that we do have some tremendous challenges. I think a lot of you as Haitian-Americans know those challenges, but I think that coming new to this, I’d like to always keep these in mind because sometimes it’s frustrating, things don’t go as fast.
We do have a country that has 70 percent of the Haitians living on less than $2 per day. Before the earthquake. And of course that was exacerbated after the earthquake. So we have to keep that in mind and see how we can manage this as we move forward.
The center of power, let’s say, and cultural and economic center was devastated. I was there. I can see, it’s very difficult to be able to focus on the future if in the present you have crumbling buildings and things that you have to rebuild. So we have to keep that in mind. We have to move, but at the same time be conscious of these challenges.
Therefore there is a limited capacity. We can’t just dump money and expect it to be used transparently. I know there is an issue of corruption and we have to look after our taxpayers’ funding and so it makes things a bit more complicated to ensure that we’re doing things as fast as we can, but we want to do it well do the resources are not misused and then we don’t have IG problems and all of that. So like Tom mentioned, a lot of the civil servants, some were killed, some have left, so restructuring and rebuilding the government’s capacity to manage, to implement, is a challenge. But we are committed to doing that and I think it’s critical that we’re able to do that. We’re going to invest in a way that things will be sustainable.
I’m amazed at all the tragedies and challenges that Haiti has been just hit with simultaneously. Cholera, the hurricane, on top of the earthquake. Altogether. It’s the same Ministry of Health that has to deal with this, so it is a challenge that I am, again, struggling with you to try to deal with as we move forward.
The Land Tenure Issue
I think this is something that comes from way back but it’s hit us now as we move in and are trying to accelerate the construction of temporary shelters and getting people out of the camps. The land tenure situation is complicated. It is not an overnight fix. We’re trying to do some things with IOM to try to look for alternative ways of trying to accelerate, simplifying and moving this issue forward, but it is an issue that we will have to continue to look at.
I’d like to mention very briefly our Administrator’s push particularly on Haiti to implement our new approaches to development. That is very much working with local organizations, local entities, taking advantage of the knowledge base. Obviously with the Diaspora it’s a big plus because -- I can’t say enough about all the knowledge base that you bring to this. So we’re active, and we’re also actively engaging the government of Haiti. I think in the past, too difficult so let’s move around it. But that means that we continued to perpetuate this parallel NGOs and the government on one side. We need to be working with both. We are certainly not going to be working around the government but with the government and we look forward to their leadership because we do need to have this and are eager to see the new cabinet in place to be able to move forward in a more robust way.
I mentioned targeting before. That’s also one of the Administrator’s principles in this new approach. And a much stronger emphasis in oversight an evaluation so that we can learn from experiences as we go along and bring in innovation, bring in know-how, technology. I saw the use of the mobile money and how this has helped use the mobile phones in a very new way. And we have tremendous results in that effort and we’re looking for more of that.
Again, I think I’m running out of time. I’m going to wrap up and just look forward to your questions.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: Now we are ready for the Q&A which is probably the most critical piece I think of the business we’re trying to do today.
QUESTION: my question is about the south part of the country. Since your presentation showed that you’re focusing on these three main corridors, predominantly Port-au-Prince and the north, is there any way of the State Department putting some information on their web site so that for those of us who are interested in working with the south part of Haiti, who are the other donors and what other type of projects and stuff like that they work with?
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: I would refer you maybe to the UN web site where we and other countries report in some detail on all of what we’re doing in Haiti, and scour that for what other countries are doing. That’s probably your best and most current source of information on who’s working in the south.
QUESTION: I had a question about the issue of contracting and local procurement. I know you talked a lot about jobs this morning. I was curious if you had an approximate breakdown of the money that the United States government has spent. What percentage of that has been spent on Haiti, in other words sending somebody like me or on goods and services that are coming into the country to provide a service for Haiti, and how much of that money is spent in Haiti on direct employment, direct procurement of goods and services, or at least the subcontracting? Thank you.
AMBASSADOR AYALDE: I don’t have that information. It’s certainly a good question. But we do have another session later on where we have our contracting officer from Haiti that may have some of that breakdown. If not, I think we can certainly go through that. I’m sure it’s somewhere. I don’t have it because I’m too we, but we can get you that.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: We can certainly get that information for you.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: Let me just add a quick remark on that. I actually don’t know globally if anybody really has that information. When we hire a primary contractor they very often hire subs in Haiti so it depends on how you count it. If you’re only counting primary contracts certainly in the initial humanitarian money there was almost no Haitian contractors as a primary because the way [OFDA] does it, they never know where the next disaster is. We’re making a real effort now with our development money to develop Haitians, and Gary Juste will talk about this during his session and what we’re doing.
But I hear NGOs toss around figures and when I ask them where they get their data, they don’t really have any good answers. So I’m not so sure globally there really is a refined count of that, but we can give you some more information on our contracting later on. But I don’t think en toto there’s a good answer to that question.
QUESTION: I have a quick request before my question. If there is a way to have Ambassador Thomas’ PowerPoint somewhere on your web site then that would be a good thing to have. Thank you.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: We’ll put it on our web site and you can copy it. I was going to try to sell it, but I’m told I can’t do that.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
My question regards reconstruction. There is all this money that has been committed for the reconstruction of Haiti and I would like to know what effort is being made to involve Haitian businesses in the reconstruction effort both in Haiti and in the Diaspora.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: Again, this afternoon Gary will address this. They’re making a serious effort. For example, one of our most successful efforts is on rubble removal. One of the problems for Haitian firms, as I mentioned, is getting capital. If you bid on a rubble removal contract with USAID you have to have money to pay for fuel and other things up front. In the United States if you have a government contract you go to any bank and get a loan. Haiti doesn’t work that way, so Gary has broken them down, and actually when he broke down the contracts for rubble removal into smaller bites that Haitians could bid for, a lot of Haitian firms bid and were successful. Also the prices went way down, so it was good for the U.S. taxpayer. So it is worth doing but there are complications and difficulties in doing it, but we are certainly trying to -- Our job is really not to employ Americans in Haiti or even Haitian-Americans, much as we love you, it’s to employ Haitians. That’s what we’re trying to do through this mechanism. But we’ll talk more about it in the next sessions.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: Our next panel is on how to do business in Haiti.
QUESTION: This question is related to what Ian said and what we’re discussing. Looking at primary contractors and how right now we get somewhere between two and five percent only primary contractors are actually Haitian. We understand that pre-audit process has been taking six to twelve months on average. Some of the requirements have been very difficult, requiring three years of financial audits and documents to produce which some just don’t exist anymore because of the earthquake.
Can you give a little more detail about what is being done to help reform procurement, to really adapt it to the Haitian scenario and context right now? You’ve mentioned also capacity. What specifically is being done also to help build capacity of Haitian contractors? Thank you.
AMBASSADOR AYALDE: There again, I think this is something that we’re sensitive to. It’s very easy to sort of say okay, streamline it, but then at the practical level there are some pre-award. Having done that, I know what it is to be a project manager. I’ve come through the ranks and I was there and I’d say okay, I want to work with this group. We have requirements that say you have to have this system in place and so forth. Then you do a pre-award survey. That takes time. So I understand. And that’s why the mission is coming up with creative mechanisms to try to streamline those requirements and where there are things that are they requirements that are really needed or that were just, over the years they just became a requirement. Then also to look at, and this is not only true here, in this case, we’re talking about Haiti, but we’ve got lessons learned that we’re trying to transfer from other countries which are going, whether it’s Afghanistan or Pakistan, where we’re trying to do the same thing. There are, I understand, contracts that are going to be in place to help with the training, to bring some of these up to speed, so there are some creative ways that we’re trying to approach it. It’s a very real issue. But I think we’ve already identified it and I would prefer that Gary speak to it when he’s next up.
QUESTION: I appreciate that jobs are number one issue in Haiti. I would like to know in the areas that you are focusing on where you are having larger developments, especially you mentioned in the north, if there has been an environmental impact study done in terms of the industries that are being brought in and what efforts are being made to preserve agricultural land in all the areas you’re involved in.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: That’s a good question. There are environmental studies going on. Actually one of my staff, Nancy Convard, has been working with the IDB and others on these environmental studies for water and other things on the industrial park.
The industrial park does need to be on land that could also be used for farming because it needs water, same thing farmers do. We looked at I think 17 or 18 sites and picked this one and we’re still doing some feasibility studies and environmental studies on it. The environmentalists think the impact environmentally is actually fairly light in the beginning compared to other industrial endeavors elsewhere. I’m not saying it has no footprint, but it will be done to strict international standards that both USAID and the IDB follow, our partners there.
QUESTION: Listening carefully to what’s been said, I don’t hear anything about security which is I believe the number one priority to Haiti right now. How would it work on the site, knowing that it’s going to get shot or someone will come and steal the goods? So I’m really concerned about it.
Number two, I’m wanting to know, are you going down to Haiti to invite the businessmen in Haiti, doing the same thing you’re doing here down locally in Haiti where the businessmen in Haiti can get involved also? We do have some rich folks down there that are willing to help their own country. So I want to know if in the future, two months, three months, five months from now, you’re going down there and do the same thing you’re doing here down in Haiti. Thank you.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: I think you have two questions there. I was just talking to Gary and others at the mission. We would like to reproduce this session in Haiti for a Haitian audience, and we’re talking about maybe doing that in January. So we are going to continue to increase our efforts to the Haitian business community. And we talk to them all the time, actually. The Haitian businessmen down there, some are progressive and some want to keep their monopolies. It’s a mixed bag.
Your other question on security, we have a heavy investment in security down there, much of it through our Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. We are heavily invested in training the HNP at the Police Academy. We also are working on prisons. We are building a women’s prison and refurbishing two men’s prisons. We also mainly through USAID are working on the judiciary.
Obviously Haiti is not quite capable of taking care of its security needs. They have about 10,000 HNP and people think that when MINUSTAH leaves they will need about 20,000 police. So they’ve got a long way to go.
In the interim, MINUSTAH is filling in both militarily and with international police there. Actually crime in Haiti is a lot lower than it is in the Dominican Republic, according to polls. That may strike you as odd, but in polling that is done, when you ask Haitians have you or a member of your immediate family been a victim of crime in the last six months, about 18 percent of Haitians say yes; about 40 percent of Dominicans say yes. In Central America it’s closer to 40 percent. So Haiti does have a crime problem. This year the official statistics show that kidnappings and other crimes are increasing slightly, but I wouldn’t say it’s an overwhelming problem. I still think you can go down there and do business safely, but you have to be aware of your surroundings.
QUESTION: My question is regarding to contracting, because my background is in government contracting, [inaudible] management and compliance services. However, with the past year I’ve worked with a lot of non-profits trying to get them into capacity as required with some of the grants and contracting services. Oftentimes there is a lack of resources that I myself is facing because it takes a lot of equipment and time to provide those type of services. I’m curious to know if any of you have established resources that my company and associates can benefit from in order for us to help the non-profits and for-profit businesses here that are Haitian owned who wants to do business in Haiti.
AMBASSADOR AYALDE: I think this is a good question that we’ll hold for Gary.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: If I were Gary I wouldn’t come in this room.
AMBASSADOR AYALDE: He’s our expert in contracting. He also can give you the latest information on where everything else. We’re collecting this.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: The number of questions for Gary just show the importance of that particular issue and how do you do the business, what is happening in Haiti that will help us help you do business better, not just with the U.S. Government but with also just working in Haiti. So Gary, beware.
QUESTION: One of the major issues has been really the rule of law and also with respect to land tenure. The land tenure issue has been an issue even prior to the earthquake. One of the things I heard briefly some talks about it, I just want to know exactly. It’s like the 80 pound gorilla with respect to even the displaced populations, whether it’s [chanmos] or through Haiti. What is really being done with respect to that? There are so many moving parts. It’s not something you can work around the government to do. It’s something you need to engage the executive, the legislative to actually change that. So what is really being done with respect to that?
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: That’s a very good question. There’s a big meeting in Port-au-Prince next week with people working in this area on the side of the Haitian government. Michelle Auriole is there, really in charge of this. She is probably, well perhaps, she’s rumored to be the next Minister of Interior for Haiti. She has been working this issue a long time.
We had suggested to the Preval government a short-term fix. That he could decree, as you know, he had emergency decree power in the absence of the parliament. Actually we recommended a number of decrees to make it easier to start businesses, none of which he ever got around to doing. But the one there that I think could be a short-term fix is starting with every new land transaction registered in a modern way with GPS coordinates and a new database that is clean and is legal.
The other issue is to really just decide who owns what land. We are talking with USAID about perhaps just trying to preserve the documents, can in all the existing documents to preserve it.
The real problem in Haiti, as far as I see--there are a lot of problems--but one is that when land is not taxed unless it’s transferred. So if Liliana owns a piece of land that I want to build a factory on, she says don’t pay me for it. We don’t want to pay the $6,000 tax. Just use it. So you have these sort of complicated land-use arrangements that have grown up over the years that are tough to unwind.
Then you have land theft, that is a big game in Haiti. And I think throwing some of the corrupt [notaires] who are complicit in this in jail wouldn’t be a bad way to stop it. There are a lot of rules of law issues that are related to this as well.
So, I think it is being addressed. There are a number or people, the OAS and other donors, who are interested, so I think this meeting next week will be a good start. Really, we haven’t been able to get much engagement from the government of Haiti on this until now, until the Martelly administration. Now I think we have it. I’m not going to say I think it’s going to be solved immediately, and we still think they need to use eminent domain on a lot of things like getting more rubble removal sites, getting land for housing, just take it by eminent domain, let the compensation be sorted out in the courts. The same way we would do it in an emergency.
QUESTION: As a taxpayer and part of that 84 percent of Haitians who are part of the skilled, massive skills bank that live outside the country in the Diaspora, you talked about as part of the strategy to improving the situation in Haiti is the integration of the Diaspora in that work. I know there’s another side of it. There’s the Haitian government that has something to say about that. But can you talk specifically as to how you’re getting that done? I’m a member of the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti dealing with dual citizenship, the Haitian Diaspora Federation that’s pushing in the same direction to find a way to integrate, and the National Haitian-American Elected Officials group, and many other groups I’m sure around here who are trying to do that. Can you give us some specifics as to how you’re doing that? A lot of us are baffled as to what’s going on.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: Thank you, Judge. That’s a good question. I think you have to remember that under our laws we can’t give a preference based on national origin and matters of contracting and competitive grants. However, I still think Haitian-Americans have an advantage because they speak the language and other things, and often that’s sought in these contracts.
On engaging the Haitian government, I think one of the challenges facing the Martelly administration on making decisions. He wants to make decisions but he doesn’t always have the expertise available to make decisions on tax law changes and on land tenure issues and other things. And so we are working with them to provide them the expertise. They have come up with a list of I think 14 experts that they would like to have hired and we have agreed to pay for a number of these experts in various areas, particularly ones we work in like health and so forth. They are suggesting, I think the candidates they want, only a few of them are Haitian. Many of the candidates they’re looking for the expertise are Haitian-American. Now as we hire for this we’ll be doing it competitively and looking. I think they want to just name somebody they know. We will, for any we agree to pay for, we’ll hire Haitian-Americans.
There are a lot of Haitian-Americans already working down there in NGOs and other ways on their own, and I have three Haitian-Americans working in my office, for example. And I see them elsewhere. So I think Haitian-Americans on their own aren’t waiting for the U.S. Government to find them a job or to get them engaged because we frankly cannot do it all so we need you to show initiative, set up your own NGOs, do your own things business wise. I know a lot of them are. I know a lot of Haitians are investors in Haiti, NE Power, there are a lot of Haitian-Americans who have invested in that, and continue. Where you run into blockages we want to be more helpful. We want to be helpful to American firms who want to do business down there through our embassy and others. So we always stand ready to help you. But again I would say use your own initiative, but certainly don’t be afraid to come to us if you reach a roadblock in getting what you want.
AMBASSADOR AYALDE: Can I add to that? There will be requests for proposals out there, and you’ll be getting -- If you check the Federal Business web site, and we can give you that information, regularly, you can see when those requests come out and I think there will be a series of them coming out in a very intense way. You will have to judge whether your organization, your group, your entity, whatever that may be, or business, qualifies for any of that request. There’s a whole long list of possibilities. And you will just have to see where you’re more competitive. You are more competitive on certain things because you know the country, you speak the language, so it’s a matter of then proposing and then that proposal has to compete. There may be several of you competing for the same thing.
So I think it’s important that you see that you regularly look at this web site to see when these requests for proposals become available and see where you fit. I’m sure it’s not all of them because we don’t do everything and there may be some that may be just the right fit for you.
QUESTION: I sense that this is a very smart group, eager for information. So this is not a question, but a point of information. After the earthquake the U.S. NGO community became, it brought into focus our transparency and accountability obligations and I wanted to share with this group that if you go to the Interaction web site and search for Haiti Aid Map you will find a comprehensive map that we have developed in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on where NGOs are working in Haiti, what projects they’re doing, what money they’re spending, a whole range of information that would be useful to anybody who’s trying to figure out what is happening where in Haiti. That information is updated and you can do that via our web site.
QUESTION: I’m here because of the architecture business in Haiti and also most important question already I heard and I got the answer from your guy. But I have another little more questions because I hear, because I like to make good business, form New York City. I like to have something to the Haiti. So there any group or any organization to help to Haiti? And then I like to help to your country for the damaging rebuilding by your country and there are any ways to help them.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: The answer is too complicated and too long for here. Come see me after on a coffee break.
QUESTION: We work in the northern part of Haiti for years and we proposed something at OES and right now the people are kind of frustrated in the north. They’ve seen things, they’ve heard things, we don’t see it. Now concretely we would like to know how can we partner with you to really get something done, something you can measure, something you can see how we’d like to see someone, and we work in agriculture, tourism, in the northern part of Haiti. We’ve made proposition before, we’d like to either afterward talk to some one of you so we can see something, how can we do that.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: I think that’s a good question and conversation you might want to have off-line.
AMBASSADOR AYALDE: Can I quickly give what maybe many of you have been asking sort of similar questions on how to get engaged. Take these web sites down: www.FBO.gov or www.Grants.gov. That’s where you can go and look and see how you can do a lot of business with us.
QUESTION: I would like to thank you for all your efforts in Haiti. We really appreciate it. Sometimes I ask a question, I know the economy of this country is not too good and you have enough to even help other countries.
My question is when will the U.S. Government help the Haitian government establish structures for private investors and invest in Haiti? Because when you have people from the private sectors, they go to the web site, they are reading all kinds of disease, they need to be vaccine for this, vaccine for that. They are scared of going to Haiti. There are private investors that would love to invest into Haiti where people can use their services and pay a fee for it so we can help develop the country economically. We really appreciate the U.S. help, of course, but we have private investors who want to go. I would like to know when the U.S. Government will help the Haitian government to establish secured structures where people can go and be free and okay to invest into the country on the private level.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: We’ve helped them set up a web site for businessmen. There’s not much on it yet. I talked actually directly with President Martelly about this and his staff and said it’s great to say Haiti’s open for business, but businessmen need a little more than that. They are cognizant of the fact of some changes there that they’re going to try to push through. They’re serious about making it a business-friendly place. And we are serious about helping them. But I’ll talk to you late about that if you’d like.
QUESTION: I have a company in Port-au-Prince. I have created over 100 jobs, and looking to a high of 4,000 new jobs next 2013. The question I do have, how can you empower the local governments? If we want to change Haiti, if we invest one million dollars per [country] we have 144 countries. I guarantee you Haiti will change. Stop doing business with the federal government because they don’t know how to run the country. If we invest in the local government, provide them one million dollars, guys, Haiti will change.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: That’s a very good point. The Haitian government’s plan is to -- Their constitution is already, since the new constitution was adopted year ago, has called for local government. They haven’t actually ever set it up or funded it. They have agreed in the Haitian government plan to do it, and AID has lots of funding to help strengthen local government institutions. So we couldn’t agree with you more, sir.
AMBASSADOR AYALDE: There’s a law pending, in fact we’ve helped draft a bill and I talked to some congressmen. They said they were going to pass it quickly. It was high on their legislative agenda. But anyway, so we’re starting with that.
QUESTION: My question is regarding the funding. If I understood Mr. Adams correctly, the $1.1 supplemental, the deadline for utilizing those funds is the end of the next fiscal year? My question is, does that mean they have to be expended? Can they be encumbered and still remain available? And is there a mechanism to extend that deadline given the enormous challenge to get that much money spent in that very short period of time.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: The short answer, it just has to be obligated by the end. It can be spent out over the next five years or so. There are a number of mechanisms. I’m pretty sure we’ll have it all obligated. And by the way, we get a new funding bill for Haiti every year, we hope, with the Congress. Like I say, Haiti is going to need I think assistance for a long time.
QUESTION: I would like to thank the panel. [Inaudible] complaint about happening slowly in Haiti after more than 18 months. My question is does the U.S. Government make in place some instructors, some tools that can help the money donated to Haiti used wisely? Thank you.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: The money going to Haiti, AID has all kinds of oversight in this regard. Inspectors General, and GAO reports and so forth. But I think your question is more about the government of Haiti. The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission which coordinates international donors and the Haitian government on this has set up an auditing, really an auditing branch to make sure that anybody’s aid to Haiti -- and there are some governments that don’t have a USAID there that give money, and this will reassure them that their money is spent in a way that their taxpayers would like. So I would go to the IHRC web site, www.IHRC.org, and there’s quite a bit of detail on their procurement accountability office.
QUESTION: I have a lot of experience in the free trade zone, especially implementation with the CBI program in the Dominican Republic. My question is to Ambassador Ayalde. You touched on the subject of education. Do you have a program right now to implement in Haiti for the training of the labor in Haiti to be able to work in the free trade zones? My experience, the Dominican Republic in the 19 --
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: Is that your question there?
QUESTION: No, it’s part of the question. If you do not have the manpower and the training in place -- schools, vocational schools -- for the work force, the investor will not establish themselves in the free trade zone. So my question --
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: The short answer to your question is yes. There are sort of three levels of training. One the U.S. Government is funding some vocational training in the textile and construction industries. Also several foundations like the Clinton/Bush Foundation is big in this as well. There’s a textile training school already set up doing that.
Thirdly, the big investor, Sae-A, the Korean firm, is training people on its own. So there are sort of three levels of training there going on right now.
QUESTION: I’m an investor in Haiti and we’ve created jobs for more than 2,000 people. And we are directly connected to tourism. Our biggest problem is that we would like to invest, but at the same time can you put up a hotel when in front of your hotel you may have an open market? So what I am asking is, do you have the hope of working with [SEAT], you mentioned Michelle Auriole, to establish community and regional planning in regards to land use? Regional land use in order to really develop the country the right way. If not, we are going to just help anarchy get a little bit better.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: It’s a good question. We have a lot of, in our construction money, our housing money and other things, there is a lot of money in our grants to the World Bank for planning, for good planning, to plan a whole neighborhood. And it needs to be done better. There is more interest in the government of Haiti, particularly in sort of planning the reconstruction of the historic zone and others, but there needs to be more, and we stand ready to work for them and they seem more willing to engage on that now than they have been in the past.
QUESTION: My company is created [inaudible] jobs. We have so far collected about 5,000 resumes or CVs of Haitians looking for employment. Could you tell us where to go and find those jobs? Those people are counting on us to find jobs.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: I think that’s a question for Gary.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: A short answer is, I get complaints from the Haitian business community how they cannot find accountants and other, they have to bring them in from Honduras and stuff. So if these are people with skills that are needed in the business community,
I’m sure you can work with the Haitian Chamber and others, but I’ll be glad to talk to you about that.
QUESTION: I actually live in Port-au-Prince for three years and I moved to the provinces two years ago. I see a reality that as the Ambassador mentioned, the fact that in agriculture assistance is being given to increase the production. But let’s say, for example, rice. Haitians consume 350,000 bags of rice a month, but former President Clinton himself admitted the fact that rice corporation had signed a contract that allowed them to bring in in Haiti 150,000 bags of rice. The production of the Haitians in Artibonite had to go lower because they couldn’t sell their rice because the rice coming from the U.S. was much cheaper.
So it’s like [inaudible] basically. This is just one example and there are quite a few others. So the realities of the country sometimes are not being taken into account.
QUESTION: My background is engineering and engineering management including working at the Pentagon managing acquisition category. Two projects.
My question is how can you strengthen the local government in Haiti, local community, to plan, budget and manage resources?
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: Train them to do it. I think it will be healthy for Haiti if there’s competition kind of between the center and local governments. And we are certainly going to do that. We have a lot of money set aside to strengthen local governance and so do other donors. I think there’s general agreement that this will be done. When it will actually get going is still a little bit up in the air. There needs to be some action by the Haitian parliament, but I’m convinced it will get done.
QUESTION: In every meeting that I come they’re going to have help for the west, the north and the south. My question is when will the [inaudible] will be placed in the Republic Haiti map.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: There are a lot of NGOs working in the Plateau Centrale. I commend you to the web site that Interaction has that shows them. There are some working there. But obviously there’s not enough. There’s not enough help for any part of Haiti, really, considering what’s going on. So there are always going to be gaps and we are trying to manage those to make sure they’re not severe ones.
QUESTION: What can be done on deportation? Because the older deportees to Haiti, they are like a large percentage of all the crime that happen in Haiti.
SPECIAL COORDINATOR ADAMS: The criminal alien deportees from the United States, as you know after the earthquake we stopped sending them. These are people who have committed crimes in the United States, fairly serious crimes I should add, and have served their sentences either in a federal or a local prison. Because of a Supreme Court ruling that said if there is no prospect of immediate return they have to be released from detention by the Homeland Security decision, interagency decision was taken to resume the deportations in January. We have had I think seven flights so far of deportees going back and to our knowledge, none of our deportees has been yet cited in a crime. We have a reintegration program. There was an accusation that there was one involved in a murder, but it turned out not to be one of our guys. I’m not saying it won’t happen, and there was a lot of debate on this, but I think given the politics of immigration in this country, you have to understand this decision in that context. But we do have a reintegration program that is I think doing a pretty good job at getting these folks reintegrated in the Haitian side in a positive way.
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: Thank you so much Tom Adams, Liliana, thank you very much for your insightful comments. And to you folks out here, thank you so much for your forbearance. Take a break, come back at 11:00 and Gary will be here.