printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Partnering for Haiti's Future Conference (Part 4)


Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
September 23, 2011

Share

Cheryl Benton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
Mark D’sa, Senior Advisor for Industrial Parks, Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator, Department of State
Yves C. Francois, Vice President of Haitian Diaspora Working in Haiti
Kesner Pharel, Economist and President of Groupe Croissance

Doing Business in Haiti

MR. KESNER PHAREL: -- and the country is going to start by October 1st, the year, we filed a budget. And it’s a difficult situation.

As I was saying, we’ve got a lot of money flowing in the economy right now, but since we didn’t get higher GDP, production didn’t benefit from the money flowing in the economy, and you could see this blue line is pretty much inflation which was less than four percent last January and right now is getting close to ten percent. So this blue line can tell you exactly what’s going on exactly in Haiti. Money does not solve problems. If you don’t invest, if you don’t purchase. In fact after the earthquake we got so much money, we got so much goods, we got low inflation but now Haiti is out of the map, Haiti is out of CNN so we get less and less product and you could see the inflation going up.

Because of the political situation you could see what’s going on in the transaction in U.S. dollars. Economics doesn’t like [inaudible] so people are waiting for the new government, the new plan to stop [complaining] from the President and to see what’s going on. That’s what you see. You get an increase of the transaction and then it’s getting down. It’s not good for Haitian economy.

The public revenue and spending, does the country having like $3 billion goods average a month as revenue? We not like the state right now with the budget deficit, but I can tell you we don’t have enough money to be able to get a stimulus as they are doing here or other countries. Only $3 billion goods as revenue for the government.

Now is a good sign of how this economy is going on. Is export and imports. Imports at the top, the red line, and exports less than $100 million a month. And we importing for like $250 to $300 million. So you folks from the Diaspora, this big gap that you see here, that’s your money. Your remittances that keep the dollar [inaudible] for the goods because we don’t export to be able to get a lower gap in transaction from commercial situation.

As you see, the exchange rate market, the goods versus the dollar, is going up. Some pressure coming from the international markets, and also less production, less exports. So you could see there is a change from the 40 good, it was pretty much an average after the earthquake, but now is going up and is completely [inaudible] to the inflation rate.

That’s a good sign for the Central Bank. That’s net reserves. That’s the first time I could say for years Haiti is close to one billion, because we get so much money from after the earthquake and the Central Bank has been able to get some good reserves. That’s the dollar a bit [locked].

You might not see that too well. That’s the second part of the presentation. Since we have been talking this morning about creating jobs in Haiti. We have been talking about how to get back to invest in Haiti.

For the business forum in Haiti, my company Groupe Croissance, we just made a study for World Economic Forum, to get the ranking for what you call competitiveness all over the world. Of 142 countries, Haiti is 141. You’re going to see some numbers, and to see challenges on the socio-economic situation.

I made a comparative analysis with Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. The population -- Haiti, 10.2; Dominican Republic, 10.2; Jamaica, 2.7. Let’s take a look at the GDP, the wealth created by the country, in one year Haiti $6.6 billion U.S. dollars; the Dominican Republic more than $50 billion; and Jamaica with less than three million people, $13.2. So you see the big gap. But some great potential. If you want to make money and if the country wants to get something well. The GDP per capita, Jamaica and the DR pretty much $5,000 U.S. dollars per capita; Haiti, less than $1,000 U.S. dollars.

In the study what we have found out, in the region, Latin America and the Caribbean. From 1985 to 2010 we get a tripling of the GDP, from $4,000 to $12,000. For the region. But Haiti never in the last 25 years gets up to $1,000 U.S. dollars.

So to give you quickly an idea, since this is a business environment I’m not going to get to every information, but the most important one is like institutions. This morning I was listening to people saying we’ve got to go to the local government. Yeah, it’s important, but institutions are very low. In fact Haiti is 141st on 142 countries.

Infrastructure. Haiti is the last one, infrastructure. We’re talking about electricity, we’re talking about water, we’re talking about ports, airports. Haiti is the last one in the last ranking. In fact this week the President [Moreno] said Haiti got the highest electricity in all over the world, and we are already the [champ], not in a good way. In the [port], in the Caribbean.

So talking about investing in Haiti, we’ve got to do homework, the institution, infrastructure, business sophistication, all these basic requirements that if you don’t do it will be very difficult for you to be able to be competitive.

That’s pretty much to summarize Haiti’s situation in the business environment on the competitiveness, and is very close. The only two, two positions Haiti got well is in [market] economic situation and the labor market efficiency. Anything else we see has shrank in size. If you see for the Dominican Republic, and if you see for Jamaica, much better. So we’ve got a lot to do to be able to be competitive with this country.

That’s very important also to see the main problems, the main difficulties Haiti, the businessmen have to do business. They’re talking about access to finance, and you see the number. They’re talking about corruption. They’re talking about institution. So we have to correct all these things if Haiti is to be competitive and to be able to get better prosperity.

Now as I said in the last part, I remember the private sector, but I want to give good support to the NGOs because Haiti needs the NGOs, but the NGOs have got to change their way of doing business.

From Michael Porter saying it’s important that they change the aid strategy and I think this morning I saw USAID mission. I think is good to change from aid to private investment, but a lot to do.

So I think these people from the NGOs, talking about poverty reduction, they’ve got to get the same language as the private sector. Increasing jobs, income, and wealth. It’s not just giving the money. It’s not just spending the money with good conscience, but you see from January 12th up to now the money didn’t do much in the Haitian economy. The facts are there.

So on the red side what we do have, what the NGOs got to do to be able to bring the support to the Haitian economy. First one, support consumption. That’s what we have been doing after the earthquake. We bring water to Haiti, we bring food to Haiti, and we have consumed all of them and now people are still under the tent with a lot of problems. So [inaudible] invest in assets. I’m talking about the NGOs.

The second one is program requiring ongoing outside support. Too often the NGOs came with everybody, even they are too qualified and they are not using the Haitian in the field. So we need sustainable programs coming from the NGOs.

The third one should be stand-alone projects. We’ve got so many projects going all over the place, in any commune, in any city, and sometimes they are doing the same thing, the NGOs. How to get investment that leverage other investment? So the NGOs got to get the same language, as I say, from the private sector.

Just giving money, so much money has been spent in this country in the last 20 months but no result. So adding value. You’ve got to get added value from the investment that you are doing.

And area covered by multiple organizations, we’ve got to say we’re still going to do our job in Haiti. The Planning Ministry was supposed to get the coordination. Since they are so weak at the government level, that’s why I call on the NGOs to give us their support not only by spending but structure and get this coordination.

The last slide, I recommend a study made by OTF on competitive support, a commission made by President Préval. It’s a very good study. If you are to invest to Haiti they give us some insight where to go, what sector, what field, for the next five years that you can really invest in Haiti. Haiti is still competitive today in these fields. Like fruit [inaudible], animal husbandry, tourism, housing construction after the earthquake, garments. So we could really compete with the region but we still need to improve our situation.

And [inaudible] said very well, how to get out of the vicious circle. The red one in the middle. The context that we are living in Haiti and we are talking here today, is aid. No country, no country has ever got out of poverty from aid. So we have to go to private investment and we’ve got to increase also the pressure fiscally. Only ten percent. The Haitian people are paying our tax, it is very difficult also to get good publics.

The attitudes. Mistrust, independence. We have to ask each other inside the country. We don’t trust each other inside the country. We don’t trust each other outside the country and the Diaspora, you know what I’m talking about, and the Diaspora vs. Haiti. So we’ve got to build up some trust, some social capital. If you don’t have that, they can give you the money, you have much on that.

And survival. You know what I’m talking about. When you ask a nation how are you? Not bully, but [inaudible]. You never ask a nation, is everything good? And you say the guy very well, I am in good shape. I am making money. I’m healthy. I’ve got money. We don’t do that. So we’ve got to change also these proverbs that keep us in this bad situation.

So when the context is aid, when the attitude we’re taking about mistrust, dependence, and our strategy and action, survival, that’s what you get. Poverty. Capitalization.

So we’ve got to break this vicious circle and get a [inaudible] circle. Private investment, paying taxes, and ask the government for transparency and accountability. We’ve got to change the attitude. More trust, entrepreneurship as you’re doing right now, small business. A better strategy in action. We’re talking about vision and [inaudible] [growth] and if we can do that we can get to prosperity.

So the three sectors -- the government, the private sector, and the NGOs -- have to get together if we want to solve, to tackle these big issues. Thank you.

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: I want to bring up our next panelist. That was a great conversation, thank you so much.

MR. YVES FRANCOIS: Thank you. I want to take a moment to really thank USAID for putting this conference together. I think it’s one of many to come in order to keep the dialogue moving.

My story is fairly simple and hopefully you guys will take the time out to ask as many questions as possible because I left a great career in New York to return to Haiti. Not to help. I returned to Haiti to make money. Let’s be clear about it. I returned to Haiti to make money. There are opportunities that exist in Haiti, as bad as you think it is.

I’m wearing two hats here because it hasn’t been easy. We formed an organization after the earthquake called [H3] - Haitians who are working and living in Haiti, because you can’t make money in Haiti if you’re not living there. Therefore all of you who aspire to help Haiti, you need to move to Haiti. I left New York, I moved my children to Florida so I can commute easier because I’m on a mission to put them through college. I’ve got to earn money. Let’s be clear about it.

So [H3] was formed because I moved back in 2006. I didn’t know anyone in Haiti; all I heard were negatives, from my family, from my sister. It got to a point I said if you don’t have anything nice to say about Haiti, don’t tell me.

My sister calls me every day, same words out of her mouth. “Be careful.” I said, “Sis, I am careful.” New York wasn’t a piece of cake, but I was prepared for it. I grew up in Brooklyn. I consider myself tough. But I didn’t think the challenges were going to be that great in Haiti. As long as you’re committing to working hard, I think you can succeed.

We’ve got over $5 million worth of construction right now and we have another $5 committed but we haven’t signed a contract yet. But as a contractor you have to be ready for growth because that same $5 million, if you don’t have $500,000 to put up as security or bond, you can’t do the work. For you aspiring contractors, that’s why it is important to leverage your friends, other larger firms. USAID provides a portal for you guys. There is DAI, there’s Kemonics, there’s Creative, there’s MTC and a whole bunch of others. There’s over 30 partners of USAID that’s doing the work and you guys need to reach out to them because they’re all looking for the Haitian Diaspora to work with them. I’ve benefitted from that. I’ve worked for Kemonics, I’ve worked for DAI. We partner up with Creative and others and some private partners also. I have a joint venture right now with Technology Synch out of Washington because when you’re going after the bigger projects, when you have to put a 10 percent bond on a $50 million project, that’s a lot of money. I don’t have that. So you’ve got to partner up.

The opportunities exist. There are private contracting firms in Haiti that are there to benefit in the windfall. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t think the Haitian Diaspora is enough to rebuild Haiti. You’ve got to look for partnerships.

I have my friend here from HRG who’s got over $35 million worth of equipment they brought into Haiti. They’re still patient, they’re still waiting. It’s going to happen but it’s going to take time. It’s not easy.

If you were to ask me what’s my most challenge in Haiti, outside of learning the culture again which [inaudible] hopefully will help those of us who want to come back and have some sort of portal to help you navigate through the nuances of Haiti. Like writing a check for $54,000 for a piece of land. Five years later, I still don’t own a piece of land. I’m still in court. I don’t want you guys to make those mistakes, but the only way you’re going to learn is to make those mistakes. I’ve made them and I’m proud of it, and I don’t want you guys to make the same.

There’s work to be done in Haiti. The Diaspora is desperately needed in Haiti. Not all of us can do what I did. But we’re going to have to make that sacrifice in order to develop Haiti. Obama didn’t become President because he turned down a job on Wall Street when he graduated. He went the grass root way. Now he’s the President of the United States. We’ve got to make sacrifices, guys. You can’t do it from abroad. You can’t do it from Washington. You’ve got to put boots on the ground to make a difference in Haiti and challenge the organizations, in a nice way.

It hasn’t been easy. I’ve worked for Kemonics. It’s not easy work. But we succeed, we’re doing. I’ve worked for Save the Children, Habitat, a number of organizations. They all want to reach out to the Diaspora but we’ve got to find a way to do it.

I’m here. If you have questions I’ll be happy to answer. Thank you.

MR. MARK D’SA: Wow. Those are two difficult acts to follow. To the audience, thank you very much. You are a very patient, very attentive audience, and I know you’ll have a lot of questions.

I decided at the end of the day I’m not going to put you through another PowerPoint presentation, but Kesner’s was a great one. He talked about aid and how aid has never brought a country out of poverty. I’m going to talk about aid for trade and how we’re doing that.

The session was supposed to be doing business in Haiti. Why should you do business in Haiti? Haiti is, if you want to ship goods from Haiti to the United States, door to door, it’s four days away. So you’ve got proximity to the biggest market in the world, the United States. You have very competitive labor in Haiti and very motivated, with 70 percent unemployment. The flip side of that is that labor is mostly unskilled so you have to invest in training. We heard this morning about, I think Ambassador Adams mentioned that there is training being conducted. I’ll say a little bit more about that later.

Finally, Haiti has one of the most liberal trade agreements with the United States. Very few countries in the world have anything to match. It’s even better than a Free Trade Agreement.

There are a number of provisions that have been created specifically for Haiti, batter than AGOA, better than the Free Trade Agreements that the Central American countries or Peru or anyone else has. Goods produced in Haiti have duty-free access to the United States, and there’s a certain framework that has been built around that to guarantee that that will carry on. Some of the provisions expire in 2018, the others expire in 2020.

We’ll all agree that we need jobs in Haiti. One of the ideas that was conceived as far back as 2009 was the creation of an industrial park that would help to generate jobs. After the earthquake that idea was simply accelerated. I’m heavily involved with the industrial park in the north. I’m sure most of you have hard about this industrial park that’s coming up and there is a lot of confusion about it. Initially people said it was a Korean park and the Koreans are building it.

The fact is the park will be owned by the government of Haiti. It will be privately managed. The anchor tenant is a Korean company that will be employing 20,000 people over a period of four years. They have already hired their first 20 people. All of them are Haitians. They’ve been sent to Nicaragua for training where they have their operations. They’ll be trained there for six months. The initial plan was different, and this is where there’s more cooperation needed in the region.

The Korean company’s name is Sae-A. They have operations in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Guatemala, Nicaragua. They had some in Honduras which closed down a few years back. Now they are expanding in Haiti.

The initial plan was to pick people from Haiti, train them in Nicaragua and Guatemala. But it took about three months and the Guatemalan government finally refused to issue visas to these trainees. The Nicaraguan government also put a lot of difficulties, but at the end they were able to get them to relax their decision and allow these people. So finally these 20 young men have all been taken to Nicaragua and they’ll be staying there. They’ve given me some weekly reports on how they feel about it. Some of them are feeling homesick, some of them are just overawed right now to see, because many of them have never been in a large manufacturing environment. But they are finding the training extremely informative, enlightening. It’s a stretch assignment for them, and very beneficial.

So when they come back, what are they coming back to? The industrial park that’s being created is on a plot of land that’s 252 hectares or 623 acres. What you’re looking at out here, if the lights are dimmed, this is the web site for the park that was launched day before yesterday, because President Martelly wanted to use it as a marketing tool while he was talking at the United Nations. So far we’ve only got the English version up. The French version should be up I think either by tonight or tomorrow.

Most of the information you need about the industrial park will be here. But it’s on 252 hectares of land. The investment is donor money controlled by the IDB which is channeled through the government of Haiti’s Ministry of Finance and they have an execution agency called the UTE. So they manage or oversee the construction of the park.

The RFPs were put out. We had international bidders. The bids were opened, assessed, and just about two weeks ago the contract was awarded. The company that won the award was from the Dominican Republic and they have a Haitian partner. But this was the contract for the first year. There will be another RFP that is put out and so on. It will go on for four years. So if anybody is interested, it’s not that the whole park has been already contracted out.

A supervision contract was also awarded so we’ll have an independent body supervising the construction.

This park is going to have its own water supply and in order to study how much water we could take from the aquifers as well as from the river we had studies done to assure that we will not affect the agriculture of the surrounding communities or the life of the communities there. The replenishment rates were looked at. We also will have a state of the art wastewater treatment plant which will deal with all the industrial water that’s discharged. A textile company is going to do their own knitting and dying, so when you dye textiles, obviously you’re going to be using water and that water is going to have residual color and chemicals. All of that will be treated in the wastewater treatment plant which will have several stages of treatment including chemical and biological treatments, so that at the end the water that’s put out into the atmosphere abides by the international rules of the EPA, the UNDP and the World Bank.

We’ve had environmental groups look into what we are doing. Negotiations are ongoing. Everything is being very carefully monitored.

When the land was donated by the government of Haiti it was supposed to be land from the eminent domain. Satellite pictures were taken, everything was looked at, the land was passed on to SONAPI which is the holding authority for the industrial parks, and it was said that the land was free of all encumbrances. So one of the first things we decided to do was build a fence around that land to make sure there would be no encroachment. But lo and behold, by the time we went to put up a fence, there were people saying that they were farming on that land. It happens, right? Everybody knows how these things work, especially when you see the IDB and the U.S. Government are involved there’s a great opportunity there. So who says there are no entrepreneurs out there?

They were there. They were farming whether formally or informally. Some of them had the right to do so, some of them didn’t have the right to do so. But we wanted to make sure that nobody was hurt by this industrial park. So we went through the full due diligence of doing a survey, doing a census, gauging their needs and working out a compensation plan which was then approved by independent environmental groups to make sure that these people are being fairly treated and we wanted to make sure that whatever compensation is offered, whether it’s land for land, cash, implements, tools, training, et cetera, would all be adjudicated in a fair manner.

So that’s all the things that have been happening out there before the construction starts. In the next few weeks the construction will be starting. We will have a groundbreaking ceremony sometime in the next month.

The park is being financed by the IDB and it’s being financed by donor money. The idea is to create jobs. We hope that within the park we can create at least 35,000 jobs or more, and outside, the multiplier effect in terms of services required and ancillary industries should create at least another 65,000 jobs which would add 100,000 jobs to the northern corridor.

We’ve already had our first client who signed up and they have promised, not promised, but we know their business plan, they are going to invest about $84 million. That is their money, not what the U.S. Government or the IDP is putting in. That’s the size of their project. That’s the biggest investment in Haiti, private enterprise investment, in the last 40 years.

We have a second client that is very close to finalizing terms with us. Mr. Alfred Toussaint who is here in the crowd of the Haitian Diaspora was able to bring in a Chinese furniture company. Their proposal is to set up a furniture manufacturing company which would generate about another 3,000 jobs inside the park, and five times that amount outside the park.

So you’ve got people who have the confidence to invest large sums of money and create jobs in Haiti. They can see the opportunity and they can see the risk. It’s not like there are no risks there. Earlier I said there’s no skilled labor.

The Korean company that’s coming in is already making plans to adopt a school. They’re working with an organization called Educators Without Borders who were up in Haiti a few weeks ago assessing all the schools in the north. They’re going to adopt one school, refurbish it, equip it the way they would like to see a very modern school, perhaps send a couple of the teachers for training, also bring instructors form Korea to get that school up to that standard. But not only do they want to adopt that school for the sake of getting a better schooling system there and getting a better quality of educated students coming out, but they want to sue the same school in the evening for continuing education programs for their workers, their workers’ families and the communities so people’s skills could be upgraded and those who are semi-literate or illiterate could acquire literacy skills.

This is what we’re doing up in the north to create a business friendly environment.

On the periphery of the park the U.S. Government is investing in a power station. The contract I think was given out last week or earlier this week for 10 megawatts, but the total power solution over a period of time will be 35 megawatts -- not just for the industrial park but for the surrounding communities as well.

We didn’t want that people should be working in a park during the daytime when the factories are well lighted and air conditioned or well ventilated and then have to go home in darkness. Most of the communities around that park in the area of [Karakol] and [Trodunar], et cetera. Today not serviced by EDH so they don’t have electricity. Now we’ll be able to supply them with electricity.

We also figured with the jobs coming up there’s bound to be migration. One of the ideas for investing in the north was to ease the congestion in and around Haiti, but we didn’t want congestion to build around the park and we definitely did not want another [City Solay] coming up in the north. So the U.S. Government again is going to invest in 10,000 houses. Actually the total number of houses are more, but what was approved today as Gary told until now 10,000 houses have been approved. And those are not going to be just around the park, but we’re going to spread them out.

The American Institute of Architects is working on an urban planning concept which is going to help the smaller towns. If you go to a lot of the little towns, the mayors and the chambers of commerce, et cetera, simply don’t have the capacity to deal with the migration that’s going to happen. If you’re going to have 500 or 1,000 just come and start living there, all those houses are added on, what are the services that are going to be required in terms of a school, a clinic, or everything else - sanitation, water. So we’ve got the American Institute of Architects that’s going to look at that whole corridor and give us a plan, look at the housing sites that we’ve already landed on, and how they’re going to fit in there and how we can best manage them.

So I’ve talked about power, housing, the industrial park. What else are we doing?

We’re doing a study of the northern coast line. You’ve got Cap Haitien, but we’re not looking at producing goods up in [Karakol] and shipping them down to Port-au-Prince to be shipped to the United States. We’re talking to the shipping lines to be able to service the exports from Cap Haitien. If you look at that port today, I don’t know how many of you all have been there recently. It looks more like an auto junkyard because that’s where all the second-hand automobiles come in and they’re just stored there. But if you’re going to have exports begin, when we talked to the furniture company and we talked to the textile company, once they are up and running in the next two or three years they will reach something like 200 containers a week. That’s going to be the traffic to and from the port of Cap Haitien. So to deal with that kind of exports, the port has to be upgraded.

Looking 10 years down the road that port may just not be enough. We may need another port, so we’re looking at sites all along the north. Is it Fort Liberté, is it Limonade de Mer? So the feasibility study on that has still not been completed, but as you can imagine, building a whole new port and upgrading an old port is going to cost more than $100 million. Ten thousand houses, about $7,000 to $8,000 each house. Do the arithmetic on that one. A power station, 35 megawatts. The industrial park, IDB has committed in the first year to $50 million and we’re looking at approximately the same amount over the next 2 years.

So this is what we’ve done to create an opportunity to do business in Haiti. We’re creating a business friendly environment to reduce the risk for investors to feel safe and come and do business in Haiti. This web site will tell you everything you need to know. The communications we’ve been having with the communities in the north, the opportunities that there are, the contracts that are being granted.

I’ll stop here and wait for questions.

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: Great, another good panel.

QUESTION: Before we do the Q&A session, Mr. Francois, we want you to talk some more about how you actually, what did you do to register your business in Haiti? Since you moved back, and there are a lot of people who talk about working in Haiti. What was the process? Talk them through that.

MR. FRANCOIS: The one thing about Haiti, the processes exist, you’ve just got to get to the right person. What does that mean? The minute somebody tells you I know someone in the government, I can get it done for you, it will cost you five times as much. I’m not kidding you. Hire an attorney, submit the paperwork, and it takes about three to six months depending on the attorney. But there is a process. It’s active and it works. It just takes a little longer than usual. In the U.S. we can do that in one day. Most of the time you can do it yourself. In Haiti you need to hire an attorney. It costs about $1500 U.S., and then they’ll walk you through a process.

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: Thank you so much.

We have 20 minutes before we wrap up, but I know you want to hear from Cheryl Mills who has spent a lot of time going back and forth to Haiti, has been doing high level ministerial meetings. She was in New York just yesterday doing high level meetings on Haiti. So whatever questions we don’t get to, I would ask the PL staff if they could bring in the index cards so that folks can write their questions down because we don’t want any question out there unanswered.

QUESTION: My name is Drucane Fertnaud, and I want to thank all the panelists for presenting on Haiti and letting us know what is going on.

I’ve moved to Haiti two years ago, before the earthquake, to work full time. My question would be probably more toward Mr. Pharel. In your opinion, what you know based on your work in Haiti, is there any policy that you know of that would prevent flight risk? It’s one thing to open up the market to investment, but we know the flight side of this also is when there’s turmoil, when the capital goes out of the economy too quick that sometimes, like the ripple effect is ten times worse.

Do you know of any policy in place that is at least a good balance encouraging foreign investment but also have some protection around it to allow that investment to remain in the country in case of turmoil?

MR. PHAREL: I would say that there are some good intentions in Haiti but the problem is hard to get the legislative and the executive to work together. That’s one of the main problems that we have in Haiti.

We’ve got in the parliament like the banking law, the project is still there. Credit bureau, all these are still in parliament, and I can tell you, these people do not work too fast.

So how to create pressure on the political leaders to vote to work, I would say. There was a discussion in Haiti that they are paying too much to parliament. I think it’s worth what they’re paid, but the problem is too many times you’ve got to go outside of the government and you’ve got to pay money. [Inaudible] is too high. So the policy, that’s what I was saying. The three sectors -- government, the private sector, the NGOs -- and why not, how to get all the components of the society to put pressure on the public people, on the leaders to do their work.

I finish by saying that lately they will take now less than three months to get the paper to the monitor. The monitor is the special official government paper to recognize, so they are going to do it by internet now. So Haiti lately in doing business, it was taking like 200 days to make a business, to register a business. So they’re trying to put it to less than 100, and then to go to 50. You’ve got to be very patient. It don’t go too fats.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. My name is Dmitri Patillon. I am with an organization called Mulberry System which I founded about 17 years ago. Since 1993 I’ve been trying to bend over backwards to do business in Haiti. I do more business in Pune, India than I do in Haiti. My question with regard to the new industrial park, will the TelCom infrastructure be in place for those of us who have interest in doing PPO type of businesses in Haiti?

MR. D’SA: I am familiar with both locations, Pune and Haiti. I grew up not far from Pune. But to answer your question in one word, yes. There will be support, a fiber optic network, broadband internet, all of that is planned into the park.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, I’m Ferman Backer and I’m from the north side. Thank you finally that we’re going to get some investment there.

My question is more to Mr. D’sa. What investment opportunity exists to surround the park? Can you tell us more about that?

MR. D’SA: Okay, I could go on for another half an hour about that one. I’ve talked to people, businessmen in the north, and Ferman, I know you are a very enthusiastic investor. I hope you will be the next Yves Francois. Of all of you, he is already planning two enterprises outside the park and asking questions about more.

Just think about it. If you’ve got 35,000 people working in the park, they need coffee every morning and they need lunch. Look at the opportunity right there. Trucks to carry goods from the park to the ports. There’s going to be executives living in the park. What do they do on weekends? The Koreans and Chinese love to play golf. There’s a huge opportunity for a golf course up in the north. If you go down to Guatemala where there’s a number of Korean factories you’ve got Korean restaurants, grocery stores, Korean churches, schools, everything to support the community. I can go on and on about what you can do out there.

You’ve got the Bay of Fort Liberté. If somebody puts five or six boats and takes people out fishing every weekend. There’s tourism opportunities. There’s agriculture and food that’s going to be required to feed the people that are working there. There’s 10,000 new houses coming up. The opportunities to feed those houses. A shopping mall. A multi-plex with some theaters. I don’t know. I could just go on and on.

MR. PHAREL: I’d like to add something. I’m from the south, but again, I don’t like too much going onto north, but one problem that we have in Haiti, we don’t think like the cluster. It’s not just what they’re doing in the park, but they’ve got so many things outside of the park. The urban planning. In fact I just came from the north and I’m scared, because they’ve got the park and they’ve got the university, but as you well know, I saw some shanty towns going close to these activities. So the government got to lay the rules and the private sector got to see not only having buildings inside the park, but you’ve got so many things outside the park. That’s what he’s saying. I think enough right now, with tourism, with the park, we can do so many things. And we could have also like the whole north of the island because Santiago, Port Platte, they’ve got so many things. All these things together and you can get a lot of money. So think outside of the box, not saying it’s the park and only what’s going in the park.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. My name is Rudo Vicomo, and I was very happy to see the presentation by Mr. Pharel. He took me back 10 years ago when I was Chief Economist in the Central Bank in Haiti.

My question, and I have to preface that with a quick comment. You have these cycles that you are presenting, the vicious cycles which started with some fatality, mentality, [bon ju bon] and we kind of let things happen to us and we have to get out of that vicious cycle to go into a virtual cycle. But the question for me is how do you actually do that? What’s going to happen is that as we are going in to develop in those clusters, going into corridor of the north, all those development direct and indirect jobs that Mr. D’sa noted, you are going to have a migration of workers where the jobs are, you’re going to have a migration of [inaudible] too. The insecurity is going to grow there. And you say that the state and NGOs, et cetera, must work together. It seems to me there is a contradiction there and it’s where my question is coming. The contradiction is that it seems to me the exacerbated development of the NGOs in Haiti. They say 10,000. Someone this morning said 15,000. Not precisely because they are bypassing the Haitian state, the Haitian government to come up with ways to help the people outside of the corruption and the lack of capacity of the Haitian government. But if now we do not reduce that exacerbated presence of the NGOs, if we institutionalize them as you seem to suggest, we are not going to solve the problem. We have to build capacities, strengthen the state. My question then is how do we get out of the vicious circle to get into a virtual circle, because it won’t be solved just by happenstance. We have to do stuff. And I believe the civil society has to stop to be kind of passive in Haiti and act and force elected officials to do things.

MR. PHAREL: The first model that I show is that the study made by the Commission on Competitiveness. Before they start to work they made a big survey, a national one, and that’s what they get as a result. So I don’t want as an economist to take the work for myself. I think I share this model.

I’m in a good position to talk about the NGOs because I’m not one of them, I’m not working in NGOs, I have nothing to see the NGOs. I’m a private sector guy. I’ve got a consulting firm. But we’ve got to recognize this third sector is not going to disappear tomorrow. They are very powerful. Here in Washington also.

So instead of going and fight them, I trying to see how we can work to get good coordination. I would like to have private sector doing the work. I would like to have government doing that. But I can tell you, the Haitian government won’t be ready tomorrow to solve this problem. So how to get them together? To get the first sector, the government, for me as the referee; the second sector, the private sector, who can benefit from the business environment; and the third sector, the NGOs, how to make them change their agenda to get a new agenda? Talking about creating value, maximizing social benefits, how to let them know hey, you won’t get a pass. Now you’ve got to every year tell us your indicators. You get amount of dollars, how you going to show, it the social impact? So it’s not just give them a pass. You’ve got to let them know hey, you’ve got to work. The same way to give information to my stockholders. They’ve got so many stakeholders. And I think Washington, Ottawa, everybody got to ask for this organization who get Haitian money in their hands what they are doing, and they’ve got to be accountable. That’s my position.

MR. FRANCOIS: I want to comment on that a little bit too, because what you have to realize too, the NGO population is decreasing in Haiti because as their funding goes away they go away. Yves Francois would never get a $30 million grant to go do whatever in Haiti because it’s just not going to happen. What we have to do is hold some of these NGOs accountable. There are some good and there are some bad ones. But we have to find a way to work with them and make them accountable and make things happen.

I can tell you a number of NGOs in Haiti that I’ve worked with, some are good. Some are excellent. Others are struggling.

QUESTION: Can you reduce NGOs up to 50 percent? Because they will change, in order the economy to grow, Haitian government must have a national investment plans. They don’t have that. Whatever we talk about is good, but we have a government --

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: Sir, what is your question?

QUESTION: Okay, my question is how can we economy reduce the [inaudible] where the government doesn’t invest in agriculture and tourism, they don’t have a plan for real estate market. And if they can invest in agriculture they can anticipate half million jobs and then they can wipe out this $1 billion by selling their products in Africa and other countries. Because United States is quite tough. I think we have to change the way we want to make Haiti a better place because we have to focus on the market and [inaudible] the market, put them on agriculture and education and technology, and then you can see it will change. You cannot change a country where we have NGOs, their money [inaudible]. Guys, if they give me $2 billion --

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: -- Haiti can be the best --

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: Thank you sir, really. We do have to speed it up.

Who wants to take that one?

MR. PHAREL: I am not working for the government, guys. You need an economic plan. Fiscal policy, monetary policy, commercial policy, fiscal policy. Ten person fiscal pressure is too low, we can’t work with that in Haiti. We’ve got to have more money. So we need fiscal reform in this country. More people got to pay their dues for talking.

On the monetary policy I put some numbers here, $3.2 billion U.S. dollars you get in this commercial bank, the deposit. Less than $1 billion is outside. $800 million. So the monetary policy in these days all over the world, the rates are so low and the government is talking about a project from BNC is a good project, eight person, to get more houses is for the middle class, is not a government policy. It’s the bank that’s a public bank that’s decided to do this work and I think it’s good. Unibank has said they’ve got like $800 million, they would like to put also in the economy, in housing sector. But the problem is the legal side. We’ve got so many problems to invest in housing in Haiti. So the government is asking about a policy.

So we’re not [inaudible] in Haiti to do the work but we need people to put pressure on the legislative to vote and to get new policy. That’s pretty much what I would say.

If you’ve got your $2 billion, if you look at the states, from the states from Florida watching the Dominican Republic, watching Haiti and watching Jamaica, with the last competitiveness report you are a [Haitian], but if you are an investor you know if you put your money in Haiti is going to be riskier. So the government got to create a better environment for you people to come and invest in Haiti. The risk is there. The market is falling down from New York, so get down.

QUESTION: My name is Maggie Bilabena, from Florida. I would like to inform the public that I’m following Mr. Francois’ steps. I am moving to Haiti after 24 years living in the United States. My mission is to help private investors ask the kind of questions that’s going on, what’s going on and how do we do this? I’m in contact with three trustworthy law firms in Haiti to work on this aspect to help you guys, all the private sectors come to Haiti and feel comfortable as far as investing your money into the country. So I’m here, I’m available, you can see me afterward. I can help you and can discuss a few matters. Thank you.

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: No question there huh?

QUESTION: No.

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: I’m going to get you.

MR. FRANCOIS: It’s a good thing. For example, I’m building one of the biggest schools in Haiti now in the town of Mibale, which was, it’s an NGO organization run by Haitian-Americans in Boston. They’re pretty well organized. And second to that, they’ve commissioned me to do some housing for them for the teachers. It’s going to be an English-speaking school in Mibale.

So it has to take that kind of approach and we have to identify areas where the Haitians just work and invest their money and do good in Haiti. If you look at Mibale, for example, there’s a big hospital going up, there’s a school. Within a couple of hours we were able to line up ten people that came up with a couple hundred thousand dollars to buy a piece of land to do a housing development there. So I think the money exists. If we put our heads together and find a trustworthy mechanism to do it, I think a lot can be accomplished.

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BENTON: I understand Counselor Mills is in the hallway on her way here. John, do you have those cards? If you can hand those to the folks who are on-line, I apologize for this but we’re right up against the clock. I wanted to thank you first of all. This is a great day for me. I hope it worked for you. And you hung in here all day long, so we’re happy about that. I want to thank you for that.

Before Counselor Mills comes up I wanted to thank the Haiti Special Coordinator’s Office, Tom Adams; Lisa Hibbard-Simpson. Lisa, where are you? She brought this project to us, so we’re happy with that.

I wanted to thank the staff of public outreach and I’m going to do this and it’s going to kill me -- Jane, John, Billy, Rasheeda, Brendan, Jennifer, Lois and Brenda. So thank them because they really put this piece together and we’re very grateful for that.



Back to Top
Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.