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a479: More comments on the rice scandal (fwd)
Please post anonymously OR NOT AT ALL. Thank you.
The figures pulished in the Le Nouvelliste article are
quite accurate. In attempting to defend themselves,
the senators and congressmen have tried to confuse
people. They have indeed received from the Fondation
Aristide vouchers entitling them to x bags of rice to
be DISTRIBUTED in their communities. What they have
done is to SELL those bags at below-market costs (not
in their communities, mind you) and then blame
importers for selling the rice at a high price. It is
easy to accuse regular importers of price gouging when
you have MINIMAL OVERHEAD, and you don't pay taxes.
Was this the BEST way they could come up with lowering
thr prices on the local market? Also, let's take a
look at Congressman Magloire's case. He had one of his
staff person jailed because she supposedly cheated him
on the sale of HIS allocation of rice. She is
currently at the Penitencier National. Just why a
congressman would task one his staff people (who are
supposed to take care of Congress business) to handle
what is a private business dealing is just baffling.
The middleman (businessman) that no media wants to
identify as the IMPORTER is Claude Flambert, the son
of former Minister of Social Affairs Mathilde Flambert
(she served under Aristide 95-96 and Preval 96-01.) He
broke into the rice business when his mother gave him
an EXCLUSIVE contract to buy rice and other staples
for the Ministry of Social Affairs. He then received a
contract from the Fondation Aristide to do the same.
In the process, he picked up a "franchise douaniere",
and the rest is history. No wonder Mr. Flambert has
been boasting in his social circles that "Lavalas made
me a millionaire" ... in US dollars, that is. No
wonder a washed-up "businessman" like him could afford
a fairly expensive yacht. You can check it out next
time you drive near his family's beach complex at Cote
By the way, did I mention that Mr. Flambert was one of
the sympathizers of the infamous Ninjas (headed by
Romeo Halloun) during the coup years (1991-1994), and
that he believed that the only good thing that could
happen to Aristide at the time was "a bullet in his
head"? My, how things have changed!
What very few people have discussed are the ECONOMIC
implications of such a large-scale scheme. How does a
rice grower in the Artibonite Valley (however small he
may be) feels when he hears that GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
are IMPORTING huge amounts of rice from overseas,
selling it at low cost because of tax and custom
duties exemptions, and are pocketing the profits? Has
anyone from the Fondation Aristide EVER contacted
local rice growers to see whether they could buy their
crops BEFORE cooking up such a scheme and making Mr.
Flambert a very rich man in the process?
Lavalas unfortunately has ZERO long-term economic
vision for the country, and this rice scandal is
further proof of that.