20 July 2007 Aiming to strengthen the economy in Haiti and promote stability there, a team from the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is calling for investment in tourism, agriculture and the textile and assembly industry.
In a report presented to ECOSOC today, the Ad Hoc Advisory Group dispatched by the Council to Haiti in April also called for strengthening public institutions in order to enable Haiti to optimize the major contributions announced by donor countries in recent months.
The report provides recommendations to the Government and the international community on how to bolster development efforts in Haiti. The Group, headed by the Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN, also includes the Permanent Representatives of Benin, Brazil, Chile, Haiti, Spain and Trinidad and Tobago.
“It is imperative that Haiti remains on the international agenda,” the report says, urging continued international support to foster stability.
Poverty is endemic in Haiti, with 54 per cent of the population living in extreme poverty. The country also has the highest child and maternal mortality in the Western Hemisphere. Life expectancy is 52 years and women are in general more vulnerable than men.
Evidence in the report makes clear that Haiti will not reach any of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of antipoverty targets to be achieved by 2015.
At the same time, the Group cited progress since its last visit to Haiti two years ago, noting greater political stability and improved security. For example, the Group was able to visit the notoriously dangerous Cité Soleil neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince, which would have been too dangerous in the past.
On the economic front, following a difficult period of negative growth and high inflation, reforms instituted by the Government have led to an expected growth rate of 2.5 per cent for fiscal year 2006 and a decrease in inflation from 38 per cent in 2003 to 8.6 per cent in February 2007.
These figures “testify to the capacity of political authorities and the civil service to set up and follow a sound economic policy,” according to the report.
While urging investment in key sectors of the economy, the report acknowledges that economic growth alone is not enough, and calls for strengthening Haiti’s State institutions. It also recommends that the adoption of a national poverty reduction strategy and calls for coordination mechanisms between donors and the Haitian Government as well as a system to track the disbursement of pledge funds.