On April 14, 2009, under the auspices of the Inter-American Development Bank, the Government of Haiti convened its international partners for the third conference on Haiti’s economic and social development, under the title Towards a New Cooperation Paradigm for Growth and Development.
Responding to an invitation from Prime Minister Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis and IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno, representatives from donor countries, multilateral institutions and other cooperation agencies involved in Haiti reaffirmed their solidarity with the Haitian people and their government, who are facing difficult challenges due to the compounded effects of the food crisis, the devastating hurricane season of 2008 and the shocks of the global economic crisis on the financial resources of Haitian households and of the Haitian State.
The Washington conference built on the commitments made in November 2006 in Madrid, where the international community and the Government of Haiti agreed to honor a pact of mutual responsibility.
All the participants underscored that Haiti is at a decisive turning point and that there is currently a window of opportunity to be seized. They acknowledged the need to adopt a new cooperation paradigm to stimulate growth and promote equitable and inclusive development for all Haitians. They reaffirmed the principles of the Declaration of Paris on aid effectiveness as a guide for their actions and agreed to take the necessary measures to accomplish that goal.
The Haitian government presented an urgent program for reducing Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters and an Economic and Social Recovery Plan, the principal goal of which is to generate 150,000 new jobs over the course of the next two years in various sectors, in both urban and rural areas. Towards that end, the government will launch a vast program to rebuild and repair transportation infrastructure and to improve land management to stimulate agricultural production, favoring labor-intensive projects, and will take measures necessary for sustaining job-creating investments, in close collaboration with donors, financial institutions and the private sector.
The Haitian Government is equally committed to improving basic services such as education, health care and the supply of potable water, paying special attention to safety and environmental standards and to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated for maintenance and appropriate operation of refurbished infrastructure and facilities. The Haitian Government will also seek to increase electricity generation, as well as to review its rates grid to defray production costs.
In their speeches to the conference, the Inter-American Development Bank’s President, the Canadian Minister for International Cooperation, the U.S. Secretary of State, the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, the World Bank’s President, the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director, the Secretaries of State of France and Japan, as well as other heads of delegations, gave their support to the plan presented by the Haitian government and promised to strengthen their efforts for this purpose.
The international community partners announced additional contributions totaling $324 million for the next two years.
The partners also agreed to participate fully in the establishment of a political forum proposed by Haitian authorities to hold a sustained high-level dialogue on development policies and governance, in order to ensure a common understanding of the situation and the mobilization of necessary resources.
Participants considered that the conference offered an opportunity to take a first step in such direction, since the preparatory work, including the Technical Meeting of Ottawa, allowed them to launch a true process to align their projects and programs with the government’s priorities, to develop a matrix of mutual commitments regarding governance, and to apply a common matrix for budget support. They agreed to reinvigorate joint planning for priority sectors.
The international community noted favorably the commitments made by the Haitian Government regarding the increase of public sector revenues, the accountability of the emergency program, the financing and operation of the Road Maintenance Fund, the electricity rates matrix and investment promotion.
They also welcomed the presence in the Haitian delegation of the Presidents of both Houses of Parliament and representatives from civil society and the private sector. They underscored the pursuit and reinforcement of an expanded and constructive dialogue among the principal actors of national development. This dialogue is at the foundation of a lasting stability for the country.
All participants recognized the frailty of Haiti’s public finances, despite a rigorous budgetary discipline and prudent management of monetary and fiscal policies. The partners agreed to pursue joint efforts on this matter on the basis of their recent agreement on the Partnership Framework for Budget Support. The fiscal discipline will permit the achievement of the completion point for debt reduction of around $1 billion, which will reduce Haiti’s annual financial obligations by around $48 million after June 2009.
The Government of Haiti congratulated the partners involved in Haiti for the additional financial effort and for the reallocation of committed resources in order to support components aimed at reducing vulnerability to natural disasters, increasing job creation and private investment, and strengthening agricultural production, transportation and energy infrastructure as well as supporting the improvement of access to education and health care services and potable water supplies.
The Haitian Government and its partners consider that how aid is applied is just as important as how much is pledged. In that spirit, measures will be taken both by donors as by the Haitian Government to improve and accelerate project execution, increase disbursement rates, successfully integrate NGOs into national development efforts and to share necessary information to evaluate results and better respond to the inquiries and aspirations of their peoples. For its part, the Haitian Government announced that it will immediately put in place a “rapid response team” that will work closely with donors and the private sector to identify bottlenecks that impede or delay project execution and that will have as its mission to react quickly to fix problems and obtain the expected results.
To this end, the Government of Haiti, in collaboration with its partners, is committed to put in place a process of consultation and political dialogue. This process will help build on the achievements of the conference regarding the reinforcement of aid effectiveness and coordination.
The Haitian Government and its partners in the international community welcomed the presence on the sidelines of the conference of representatives of civil society and numerous NGOs that contribute to development in Haiti. Their commitment and their work represent a significant contribution, and its impact needs to be maximized for the welfare of the population.
The Government of Haiti thanked the donor countries, the international organizations and all participants for responding to its invitation. Its authorities particularly recognized the Inter-American Development Bank for its tireless efforts to make this conference a success.
- Peter Bate