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#548: Structural adjustment :Dailey comments

From: PETER DAILEY <HOLMES11@prodigy.net>

Re Dr. Gill's message, in case anyone has failed to notice, 
the "Structural Reforms," about which so much heat and 
so little light was generated in these pages and elsewhere 
not so long ago, are largely an accomplished fact.

The major "reform," with the most far-reaching and 
potentially catastrophic consequences was the reduction 
of tariffs on agricultural imports. This became law in 
1995. All the subsequent controversy, and the bringing 
down of the government in 1997, accomplished was to 
prevent the implementation of those measures tossed in 
by the lenders to cushion the blow and help the least 
competitive agricultural sector in the hemisphere, the 
Haitian peasants, cope with the onslaught.

In terms of consequences for the Nation, the 
privatization of state industries was never more than a 
footnote. Many of them were closed already, and have 
since been sold off. But since the sale of Teleco 
threatened the GOH's principal patronage machine and 
source of extra-budgetary funds, and the sinecures of 
many socially and politically well connected people who 
were otherwise unemployable, the interests and welfare 
of the nation were held hostage to this issue. And now we 
see that in spite of the efforts of "young activists" like 
Rene Civil and the JPP the privatization of Teleco is 
pushing to a conclusion.

Since "structural adjustment" has been a failure 
nearly everywhere else it has been applied, what, if 
anything, might have been done. What has Aristide's 
"leadership" on this issue consisted of? For a period of 
about a year he speculated before international audiences 
about a "third way" without ever deigning to delve into 
specifics. On a retail level it was the usual demagoguery - 
structural adjustment would take the jobs of the street 
sweepers, latrine cleaners, etc. And then a long silence. 
Boredom? Or should we conclude that he is reconciled to 
these measures and will let Preval take political 
responsibility so that he can attack them when back in 
office? Who knows? Who cares?

Did the GOH ever really have a choice? We have all read 
scores of proposals for development over the past four 
years, all of which made more sense than the one the 
international lenders apparently contemplate. I have yet 
to read one of these proposals that had anything 
concrete to say about how such development might be 

Although the governing classes could probably have 
gotten along without additional foreign capital, for the 
people of Haiti it has only further accelerated the 
downward spiral, whence this weird nostalgia for the good 
old days of Jean-Claude.

Although I would be interested in hearing otherwise, I 
doubt the GOH ever had a choice other than to dig in, 
negotiate the best deal possible, and move on. 

Apart from those amounts tacitly set aside by the lenders 
for the satisfaction of the corrupt instincts of Haiti's 
rulers, I doubt that the banks will intentionally leave very 
much of the disbursement of the money to the 
government's discretion, but will instead misspend it 

Peter Dailey