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#5198: Political Leadership and Accountability-Durban Comments (fwd)

From: Lance Durban <lpdurban@yahoo.com>

It is difficult to defend the Preval administration, yet interesting that
there are still folks on the Corbett List who feel it can be done.  Guy
Antoine's recent post asking us to tone down the rhetoric and ask
ourselves what we personally have done to help the situation in Haiti
sidesteps the issue.  At some point you just have to look at the
scoreboard.  And if the score is lopsided and your side is getting
clobbered, one IS entirely justified in asking how the team is playing and
what the manager is doing to turn things around.

In my humble view job creation should be the number one priority in Haiti,
yet the Preval Administration has literally chased foreign investment out.
 Not just by the well-documented infrastructure shortcomings, but by
bureaucratic bungling at all levels.  While Preval addresses the world
stage at the U.N. I would defy anyone to try and set up a manufacturing
company in Haiti today.  The red tape and hassle is quite astounding.  Key
ministry approvals simply cannot be obtained and at every turn the
prospective investor is treated poorly... as though he is some sort of
monsterous exploiter of pep-la.  And he is treated that way because that
is how he is seen by the Preval administration!

Having visited the DR this past week, I was struck by the welcome mat the
Dominicans lay out.  Not only are top people in the ministries very
approachable and ready to help, but people in business report that getting
things done now really is quick and easy.  A marked improvement in just
the last 6 years, and I daresay one that came about by conscious decision
of the Dominican leadership to create conditions for growth.  Frankly the
results speak for themselves...the place is booming!  (Incidently, the
Dominican government is out of the phone business and reportedly plans to
privatize the electricity company). 

Much of the world economy is in a period of unprecedented growth.  In the
United States companies are constrained because they can't find workers. 
Shouldn't a country with massive unemployment like Haiti make every effort
to attract some of that job growth to its shores?  Yet the present Haitian
leadership devotes its limited time and resources to strengthening
diplomatic ties with Cuba, passing a tin cup around to various
international donors, and then spending huge sums on enviromentally
harmful road projects where there are few people (Furcy, Boutilliers,

Will the November elections take place?  Will the next Haitian president
pick up the dropped ball and run with it?  Will he understand which way to
run?  As was pointed out by someone in Corbetville, there are plenty of
smart people in Haiti and the Haitian "team" could be a strong one, but it
needs a good manager with more vision and competence than the present
administration has shown.  Private sector importance notwithstanding,
Haiti is a prime example of why government matters.

Lance Durban 

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