Decentralization Gains Traction as Key Driver of Sustainable Development in Haiti

Haiti continues to send clear messages that the country is open, wide open, for business. Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative – Haitian Action Network Forum (GCI/HAN), Haiti’s Minister of the Interior, Thierry Mayard-Paul, pointed to the abundant investment opportunities throughout Haiti and reiterated the aggressive, positive steps the Haitian Government is taking to make Haiti a “great place to do business” and a favorable place to invest.

President Martelly, his administration and I are fully committed to ensuring that companies and organizations can experience success in Haiti,” said Mayard-Paul. “We want to create an environment where Haitian entrepreneurs can establish new businesses quickly and efficiently and an environment where international companies feel confident that their investments will be profitable and secure.”

{FILE IMAGE: A classroom which was officially opened in Léogâne earlier this year} Haiti's Minister of the Interior seeks to direct more investments, projects and jobs to the heartland

Noting that the government of Haiti has already begun to make important adjustments to the nation’s legal framework, the Minister listed democratic governance, rule of law, tax incentives, land reform as key measures designed to help investors realize the most positive results for themselves as well as for the Haitian people.

International fashion-designer, Donna Karan, a participant in the Haiti Action Network forum, openly expressed her enthusiasm about what is happening in Haiti today, “every person in Haiti is full of creativity, so you can have an immediate business.” She also praised the Martelly administration for taking the right path towards a stronger Haiti and commented that sustainable development and job creation is “the only way to do it” and that the best investment in Haiti is in its people. “The opportunities in Haiti are endless,” she concluded.

Within this more positive investment environment, Mayard-Paul encouraged Haitian investors, NGOs and entrepreneurs attending the Haiti Action Network Forum to support priority projects such as building and modernizing Haiti’s infrastructure and energy grid—and challenged them to shift their focus beyond the capital city to Haiti’s rich interior.

President Martelly’s new vision of Haiti is to build a socially just, economically free, and politically independent nation; one which doesn’t end with reconstruction but rather, begins with renovation,” said Mayard-Paul as he again called for more social initiatives beyond the gates of the capital of Port-au-Prince. “The key to driving sustainable development in Haiti is to map it throughout our entire nation and then drive it through local initiatives and decentralized cooperation.”

Dufirston Neree of the Inter-American Development Bank agrees that the Martelly administration is taking the right approach, “The government of Haiti should continue to do what it is doing to support decentralization and sustainable development. If the government continues on this path, things will improve.”

Several social initiatives are already underway as examples of programs that advance President Martelly’s vision for a decentralized Haiti, including an innovative and cost-effective approach to reduce extreme poverty and improve health outcomes in Central Haiti, which has been implemented by Fonkoze, in partnership with BRAC and Partners in Health. The program has reduced mortality from malnutrition, and increased access to high-quality training and educational opportunities for rural youth.Another example is the recent partnership by Nestle and the Colombian National Coffee Federation to transfer agricultural, reforestation and cooperative organization best practices to Haitian coffee growers.

According to Mayard-Paul, “There has never been a better time to get involved in our many territories. There are co-ops and businesses that are ready to scale up their work, and become players in the global economy. The current Haitian government is committed to facilitating investment, and we have a population that is ready to work hard. Today, the people of Haiti are not looking for a hand-out, we want investments and jobs to restore our dignity and rebuild our nation.”

Haiti has taken aggressive steps to promote private sector investment and social infrastructure programs in order to drive job creation. A recent investment forum in Haiti, sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Clinton Foundation, attracted a stellar response from the international investors, with more than 1,000 business-minded attendees, including many corporate CEO’s, turning out to learn more about how and where to take advantage of Haiti’s myriad investment and development opportunities. During that conference, several concrete commitments were announced including a joint venture between Digicel Group and Marriott Hotels worth $45 million to open a 168-room hotel in Turgeau. Minister Mayard-Paul thanked Denis O’Brien, Chairman of Digicel Group, for his continued commitment and support in Haiti that has brought invaluable opportunities to this nation.

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