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From: MKarshan@aol.com

Haiti's Cherestal admits much to be done to alleviate extreme poverty
BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jan 18, 2002

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Marie Cherestal gave a parliamentary address in which he outlined government economic strategy for 2002. He admitted that any achievements made by the government are insignificant in comparison to the extreme poverty and 60 per cent unemployment rate in Haiti. He proposed a cabinet reshuffle and promised to focus on agriculture, investments and health. After the speech, a number of senators repeated calls for Cherestal's resignation. The following is the text of a report from the "Creole Gazette" newscast, broadcast by Haitian Radio Vision 2000 on 15 January:

Prime Minister Jean-Marie Cherestal yesterday presented to parliament an assessment of the activities of the government he leads, as required by the Haitian constitution. Cherestal presented this assessment at the opening of the second ordinary session of the 47th legislature. Prime Minister Cherestal emphasized the various achievements of his government in the fields of education, health, tourism, public works and so forth. However, the prime minister acknowledged that the accomplishments of his government are insignificant compared to all that should have been done to alleviate the extreme poverty of the Haitian people.

Several times during the speech, Cherestal insisted that the political crisis prevented funds from being released for the realization of several projects he had planned. Concerning the global situation and the country's economy, the prime minister promised that he would work to correct Haiti's gross national product, which dropped by about 2 per cent last year. Cherestal plans to correct that. He also announced that the government will try to stabilize the gourde versus the US dollar and create jobs. Cherestal said:

[Cherestal - recording, in French] First, the decline of the gross national product by 1.7 per cent compared to fiscal year 1999-2000, and second, the progressive inflation of the budget deficit, which amounted to nearly 2.2bn gourdes on 30 September 2001, and a significant depreciation of the national currency, which reached the level of 25 gourdes for one US dollar last September, as well as the aggravation of the unemployment or under-employment situation, has kept the level of unemployment at 60 per cent of the active population. [End of recording]

The Lavalas government says it will act on three major points to help fix several important sectors, such as agriculture, investments and health.

[Cherestal - recording, in French] The action plan for fiscal year 2001-2002 will turn on three strategic major points advocated by the government in March 2001, that is improving the worth of human capital by placing special emphasis on literacy, universal education and primary health cares. Second, continuing to boost national production. In this sense, our target is a 2 per cent true growth rate in the gross national product so that we can at least achieve the gross national product of last year, when the focus was on infrastructure. [The government will focus on] agriculture, including fishing and aquaculture, the export industry, agro-industry and tourism, and finally, the improvement of management, notably through the reorganization of the judicial system so it will provide the appropriate services for justice and security, as well as the continuation of the decentralization policy. [End of recording]

To implement all of the items he listed in his 14 January speech, Cherestal announced that he will reshuffle his cabinet. He said that it is important to have harmony in the government team so they have better results.

It should be noted that after Prime Minister Cherestal's assessment speech, several senators continued to call for Cherestal's dismissal. They said the speech was full of lies. The text of the speech says that projects are under way to pave the streets of Port-de-Paix. However, the prime minister did not say explicitly how many kilometres or how much money it will cost. He just says that 60 per cent of the paving work has already been done in Port-de-Paix.

Source: Radio Vision 2000, Port-au-Prince, in Creole 1700 gmt 15 Jan 02

/BBC Monitoring/  BBC.

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