The earthquake that struck us last year has crippled our economy and our infrastructures, the country must now look to potential investment from the international private sector.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) estimates that the damage caused by this disaster can be estimated at twice the value of the country's annual economy. Haiti produced only US$7,2 billion in goods and services in 2008, according to the World Bank. Economists Eduardo Cavallo, Andrew Powell and Oscar Beccerra estimated the earthquake caused damage worth between US$8-14 billion. Eduardo Cavallo specifies that "This is just an assessment of damage, it gives no indication of the amount of money to get the country back as if nothing had happened"
In Jamaica, earlier this week the Jamaica Air Shuttle and PriceWaterhouseCoopers attended a breakfast briefing entitled "Caricom's New Business Frontier-Haiti" to the hotel Pegasus.
Were presents at this meeting Kenneth Baugh Jamaica's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Garvey Jean-Pierre Haiti's Minister Counsellor and P.J. Patterson former Prime Minister of Jamaica.
The former Prime Minister of Jamaica, P.J. Patterson, who is now the Caricom Special Representative on Haiti clearly indicated that Haiti urgently needs of private sector investment and that many of the pledges of donations made had failed to materialise. He said that there are plans to put in place a Caribbean Community Fund for disasters like Haiti but to date the response has been at best lukewarm.
Patterson declared that "Many of the pledges made should be going to the Haiti Recovery Fund (HRF) and not into bilateral projects. The immediate priorities in Haiti are shelter, sanitation, infrastructure and employment". He hat it will take around US$11 billion to rehabilitate the public sector of Haiti and another US$25 billion for the private sector. He further added that a Caribbean investment fund would see Caricom playing a major role and would probably be managed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). "The aim would be to assist the agricultural sector, help in the recreation of professional services, recruit social and economic planners, the whole gamut [...] We are seeing slower progress than I would have liked but I continue to encourage Jamaican companies to invest in Haiti. There are tremendous opportunities there.
Christopher Levy, CEO of Jamaica Broilers declared that his company is already looking at opportunities there and is encouraging other Jamaican companies to also do so, adding that the "Haitians are very receptive to Jamaicans and I would encourage our companies to go there and take a look. The people are very proud and honourable and business is conducted in English. We see many opportunities for Jamaica Broilers there. Let's not forget that Haiti has a population of over 9 million people. Our private sector [that of Jamaica] can play a role in Haiti's rehabilitation. I don't see why not
For his part Ken Mason, Digicel Group's Business Development Director declared that "we saw an investment opportunity in Haiti and did not judge the book by its cover
Article by HL/ HaitiLibre