Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive says he is willing to allow international aid to bypass his government’s coffers and flow directly toward the island’s reconstruction efforts.
After returning from Monday’s meeting of 19 foreign ministers and international organizations in Montreal, Bellerive said he did not go to solicit money, but rather seek a commitment that group members would work with the Haitian government in a coordinated effort to rebuild.
“We had a lot of conferences where money was thrown around Haiti, billions given, and we didn’t see any results,” he told The Miami Herald. “What I want now is commitment to our projects.
“If I need a hospital, I want a commitment that a hospital will be built. And that hospital will be maintained. It will have medics, and we are going to know how we are going to pay the doctors, the nurses.
“The government doesn’t even have to receive the money, just do things,” he said.
Haiti’s international partners have long promised millions in aid, as recently as last year at a Washington donors’ conference.
But government officials, including Bellerive, who served as the country’s planning minister before becoming prime minister late last year, have repeatedly criticized the slow pace — or absence — of that aid.
Bellerive said the meeting in Canada included frank, closed-door discussions with Haiti’s partners about the government’s weakness, credibility problems and lack of accountability, as well as poor coordination by the international players.
His three goals, he said, were to show that Haiti has a functioning government, that the crisis will continue for months if not years, and that the international community has to join the government in its effort to reconstruct — not just in Port-au-Prince, but the entire country.
At the same time that the government is addressing reconstruction, it must continue supplying basic needs, he said: “Water, food, medication.”
Bellerive declined to talk dollar amounts, but said the European Union has already pledged more than $140 million for the reconstruction of government ministries that collapsed into rubble, and the International Monetary Fund has pledged $100 million toward erasing Haiti’s debt.
He said the international community has begun reconstruction planning, and has sent technical assistance to assist in drawing up plans.
“The government doesn’t want to just rebuild what was destroyed,” he said. “We have to build differently. We have to build better, and we have to have a plan to do it.”
With the earthquake wiping out 60 percent of Haiti’s gross domestic product in 30 seconds, Bellerive said the entire country has to be rebuilt taking into consideration that tens of thousand of victims have evacuated the capital for the provinces.
SOURCE: The Miami Herald. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, (c) 2010.