Fri, Apr 16 2010
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Haiti’s parliament has approved the creation of a commission that will allow foreign donors to participate in deciding how to rebuild the poor Caribbean nation after its devastating January 12 earthquake.
The bill approving the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, which was set up by an international donors conference on March 31, was passed by the Haitian Senate late on Thursday after the national assembly’s lower house had also endorsed it.
The assembly also extended a post-quake state of emergency for 18 months, corresponding to the commission’s tenure.
The joint commission, to be co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.N. special envoy for Haiti, and by Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, will determine which reconstruction projects will receive backing from multibillion-dollar funding pledged by foreign donors.
President Rene Preval is due to sign the bill into law and the president will have final veto over rebuilding projects.
Even before the catastrophic quake, which shattered the fragile and impoverished Haitian economy and killed more than 300,000 people, the Preval government had a reputation for high levels of government corruption. Donors had called for guarantees of oversight and accountability in the rebuilding process.
Sitting on the commission, under the joint chair, will be an equal number of Haitian and non-Haitian representatives. The latter include officials of international organizations, multilateral lenders and major donors.
The body will operate for 18 months before handing over to a government redevelopment authority.
Thirteen senators voted for the bill, one voted against, and two abstained, but in preceding debates, Preval’s administration had to overcome arguments from some lawmakers who said the quake-hit nation was ceding sovereignty by agreeing to a foreign donor role in decision-making.
“I could not vote this law because it is against the country’s constitution and it violates our sovereignty,” said Senator Youri Latortue, who refused to back the bill.
Rejecting these fears, Preval told Haitians the operation of the commission would facilitate the release of massive reconstruction financing that will be administered through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund, to be supervised by the World Bank.
“Do we lose our sovereignty because of the creation of this commission? I think the answer is no,” Preval said recently.
MOST HAITIANS MISTRUST GOVERNMENT
At the March 31 donors’ conference in New York, foreign governments, multilateral institutions and non-governmental organizations from around the world pledged a total of $9.9 billion for Haiti’s reconstruction, $5.3 billion for the next two years alone.
The emergency measures accompanying the creation of the recovery commission authorize the Haitian government to use funds and take other measures needed for reconstruction without prior approval by parliament, and also allow it to avoid some legal and constitutional constraints.
Most Haitians have criticized what they say was the Preval government’s slow and ineffective response to the natural disaster. A poll funded last month by the international charity Oxfam showed that only 6.6 percent of Haitians believed their government alone should be left to rebuild the country.
But government supporters said the commission would help to get the reconstruction underway quicker. “We want this law to take effect as soon as possible so the population may see the concrete results of commitments made by the government and the international community,” Senator Joseph Lambert said.
International aid workers are striving to care for more than 1 million homeless Haitian quake survivors who are camped out in makeshift tent and shelter communities sprawled across the wrecked capital and in other damaged towns.
Aid workers say that unless safer, more secure shelter is found for the hundreds of thousands of homeless quake victims, the imminent rains, and the hurricane season starting on June 1, could cause another humanitarian catastrophe.
(Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Eric Beech)
This is another bizarre illegal, criminal and unconstitutional decision, forced upon a population of 9,000,000 without their effective say in the matter. At the moment, Parliament’s mandate has expired and the constitution does not allow for any extension of the Senate or Chamber of Deputies term of office. Preval created the same situation, in January of 1999, when he effectively created a dictatorship by not renewing Parliament.
He ruled by decree for 18 months until the international community forced elections. By that time he controlled the electoral council and won the vote. His first cousin was chairman of the electoral council.
Now we see Preval, with MINUSTAH’s collusion, illegally extending his term in office by some 18 months – even though there is lip service to election in November. Before October, Preval will create a situation in which he can state that there is no security…therefore elections cannot be held. Of course, the fact that Preval is the author of the insecurity will not matter.
This is another effort, on the part of Brazil, and others, to control Haiti and the billions in reconstruction funds. One would think that Haitian drivers would drive Haitian trucks to clean up the results of the January 12 quake disaster….and keep the money inside Haiti for a further positive effect on the economy.
There has been an avalanche of Brazilians into the Dominican Republic, and Haiti to control contracts for the reconstruction of Haiti. One group has just rented a single house – previously renting for $4000 American per month….for $20,000 US . A couple of dozen Brazilian truck drivers will live there while they work their Haitian contract…. Even as most Haitians lack job, homes, or Hope.
One of these contracts sees the drivers’ requirements as minimal. They can pick up a load, on one side of the street, and dump it on the other, in order to collect their funds on a per trip basis.
There is no audit facility.
Billions will be expended and taken out of the country while Haiti is left in the same condition.
All this is happening as Clinton and Preval toast each other on the success of their partnership.
I know Preval is making millions.
What is Clinton getting out of this?
If I know about the simple truck crime…Clinton must also know…or cannot claim to be doing his job. You cannot have it both ways.
Preval must go.
We must have a new, independent Electoral Council and an election in November. Otherwise, there is no future for Haiti and all of the money will be stolen!!!