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8906: 8904: Job Creation, again (fwd)

From: Jean-Marie Florestal <sonice1953@yahoo.com>

<<Of course, it can be argued (and has been argued on
<<this list)that assembly jobs are really not worth
<<chasing anyway.

This anonymous post writer is lamenting, and for good
reasons, the low regard accorded to the assembly
sector and the economy itself - all sectors. If the
topics discussed on this list itself are any
indication,in the minds of Haitians everywhere
politics is a greater priority than economics. It can
be argued that we made some progress in the political
arena in the past 20 years, our ranking in the world
economies and the poverty that is ubiquitous
everywhere you go to in Haiti, on the other hand make
it hard to understand why is the ECONOMY not a greater
priority than politics.
With the premise that the economy should be the
greatest priority, the question is what sectors should
be targeted. Three sectors come to mind because of
ease of implementation, lack of burden to public
funds, and because little skilled labor needed. Those
sectors are in priority order: the assembly industry,
agriculture and tourism. 

The case for the assembly industry is a no-brainer. It
is currently the easiest source of great number of new
jobs that the country can create. Our competitors
understand that. Based on the anonymous writer post,
the most major obstacle to the assembly industry
growth in Haiti is red tape. This is not acceptable.
All the industry needs to thrive is the will and
cooperation between the private sector and the
government. Those who argue that the unemployed
workers prefer hunger to less agreable working
conditions in the factories suggest that they have
never experienced forced hunger in their lives. The
government can always use thier leverage to gradually
improve the working conditions of the assembly workers
without driving the factories to the Dominican
Republic, Mexico, China and all these Central American
countries who seem to have a greater tolerance for
those conditions.

The case for agriculture is a more difficult one.
While it is the most urgent, due to land erosion and
the reach to a larger section of the population, it
takes much more public money to implement and a lot of
time to impact the economy. In Miami's supermarkets,
it's easy to find cassava, fruits and vegetables from
Dominican Republic, bananas and coffee from South
America, just to name a few. From Haiti, it is
virtually nothing. These are agricultural products
that were widely available in the country and exported
to foreign markets when I was growing up in Haiti. Not
in the far distant memory, I was working for a bank
whose customers regularly exported coffee to Italy and
many other developed countries. The lack of adequate
national concern for this sector combined with
hurricanes and other national disasters have taken us
out of competition in this market in favor of Brazil,
Columbia, Kenia and may others. Because of the number
of Haitians involved in agriculture, it is hard to
imagine some economic development in Haiti, or
elimination of misery for that matter, without a
prominent role by the agriculture industry. The
majority of public investment in economic development
should go there.

The case for tourism is harder, even though it seems
that where public money has recently been headed to.
Foreign perception of us has deteriorated too much to
revive the industry without major changes and a lot of
time. Regardless of the amount of advertising money
spent for tourism in Haiti, as long as misery and
crime continue to make headlines overseas, significant
progress in luring tourists in Haiti will be very
elusive. Even the diaspora is not an easy catch. While
some of the ad campaign has been targeting them, they
watch and read daily the foreing press. All they are
reading or watching from the press combined with
political insanity inside are constraining their
numbers as tourists year after year. The irony is that
Haitians living in Haiti seem to care less what
foreigners are telling about them outside of Haiti.
But tourism is based on perception. Yet, it is easier
to develop tourism in Haiti than to engineer a
manufacturing revolution. Tourism still remains a
source of economic activities in Haiti that requires
attention by the current administration, but it should
be prioritized a part of a larger plan after the
assembly industry and agriculture. 


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