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#198: UN study says Haiti needs help in distributing aid (fwd)


UN study says Haiti needs help in distributing aid
 06:37 p.m Jul 19, 1999 Eastern  By Evelyn Leopold 

UNITED NATIONS, July 19 (Reuters) - A new United Nations report on
Monday recommended increased foreign aid for Haiti providing the
government was able to coordinate it properly. The survey, by the U.N.
Economic and Social Council, said the Haitian government needed help in
managing foreign assistance and that parliament's failure to approve
some loans and projects made the situation even worse. `About 86 percent
of development investments in Haiti are  funded abroad. It is vital that
the flow of such resources to the country is not only maintained but is
also increased over the  next few years,'' the report said.  At the same
time, however, the government needed to address  the ``inadequate aid
management and coordination,'' resulting in  part from a political
stalemate which has made it difficult to approve new programmes, the
report said. `A major problem facing the delivery of foreign assistance
is that of insufficient coordination by the government and slow         
disbursements due to diminishing absorptive capacity,'' the         
report said.  Haiti's president on Saturday approved a controversial
election law, moving the Caribbean nation one step closer to holding its
first elections in more than two years. The country's last elections,
for legislative and municipal posts,were held in April 1997. Fraught
with irregularities, they were widely considered fraudulent, and the
winners never took office.Total foreign aid to Haiti has decreased from
$535 million in 1994 to $353 million in 1998, the report said. About
half the aid is from individual countries, the other half from
multilateral institutions. The United States gives about a quarter of
the assistance or $94 million in 1998. The report, however, said that
those Haitian institutions which tried to coordinate rationally found it
difficult to carry out their jobs because of ``isolated operational
practices'' by donors, including government, multilateral institutions
and voluntary groups.  The Economic and Social Council recommended a
 comprehensive approach for long-term assistance among all          
donors and institutions, such as the World Bank and the United         
Nations, with the Haitian government ``defining the objectives  and
priorities.''  It also asked U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.N.
agencies in Haiti to help the government develop a long-term          
strategy in education, poverty eradication, human rights, administration
of justice, the electoral system as well as police training. The study
is the first of its kind by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC),
which was asked to undertake the survey by the Security Council.        
ECOSOC's new president, Italian Ambassador Paulo Fulci,conceded that the
body is little-known although it ranks on par with the Security Council
or the General Assembly in the U.N.Charter. Fulci is attempting to move
ECOSOC out of its traditional low-key coordinating role on economic and
social issues and the Haiti study was one attempt. Others were public
forums on poverty eradication.