Haiti

Republic of Haiti
Population 10,110,019
Independence 1804, France
Languages French (official), Creole (official)
Form of government Republic
GDP (2014) $8.7 billion; per capita (2014): $ 1.800

Haiti, an island nation in the Caribbean that shares an eastern border with the Dominican Republic, gained independence form France in 1804. Since that time, Haiti has experienced political upheaval and instability. After an uprising in 2004 that ousted dictator Jean Bertrand Aristide, UN peacekeepers were deployed to re-establish order, and democratic rule was restored in 2006.

Today, Haiti’s political and economic environment is precarious. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated the capital, Port-au-Prince, in January 2010; more than 300,000 people died and 1.5 million were left homeless. The effects are still reverberating. A subsequent outbreak of cholera and a series of hurricanes further destabilized the economy and disrupted delivery of social services.

Efforts to rebuild are ongoing: More than 90 percent of Haiti’s internally displaced persons have returned to their home communities or relocated within the country, and infrastructure is being upgraded to better withstand natural disasters. Political tensions were high following years of delay in holding parliamentary and local elections, but new elections are scheduled for 2015.

Government Title Name
President H.E.Michel MARTELLY
Prime Minister H.E.Evans PAUL
Minister of Economy and Finance H.E.Wilson LALEAU
g7+ Focal Point Mr. Fritz Gerald Louis, Advisor, Ministry of Economy and Finance

New Deal Implementation

Haiti joined the g7+ group in 2010 and endorsed the New Deal. Haiti hosted the annual g7+ Ministerial Meetings in Port-au-Prince in 2012.

 

The president is the chief of state and is elected in five-year terms, with a single term limit. The head of government is the prime minister, who is appointed by the president and ratified by the National Assembly. The cabinet is appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president.

The bicameral parliament consists of the 30-seat Senate, whose members serve six-year terms, and the 99-seat Chamber of Deputies, whose members serve four-year terms. As of mid-2015, parliament was not functioning due to members’ terms expiring following years of legislative election delays. Elections in August 2015 are expected to resume parliamentary activity.

Haiti’s decentralized government provides autonomy to municipalities, but capacity for both service provision and revenue collection at the local level is limited. The central government and development partners are working to provide more resources to municipalities for governance and public financial management. Municipal elections originally scheduled for 2012 are due to be held in late 2015.

Periods of political instability and prevalence of natural disasters has led to high rates of poverty and unemployment. Much of the country’s infrastructure is damaged, and the government’s capacity to carry out service provision is limited. One in four people in Haiti live in extreme poverty. Inequality is also high, with the French-speaking minority dominating public and private sector leadership and the Creole-speaking majority lacking employment opportunities. Poor access to clean water, housing, and social protection are obstacles to socioeconomic development. 100,000 people still live in IDP camps, and while this represents a significant decrease since 2010, it is a population that remains at high risk of food insecurity, disease, and unemployment.

The international humanitarian response following the 2010 earthquake overwhelmed the country’s government and already weakened infrastructure, but development partners have since made efforts to improve coordination and leverage resources. In addition to the earthquake’s devastating effects on infrastructure, it had similar effects on human capital; an estimated 18,000 civil servants died in the disaster. Haiti’s 2010-2030 Strategic Development Plan calls for a series of three-year frameworks setting priorities for development, including building human capital. The 2014-2016 framework focuses on (1) education and human and social development; (2) environment and regional development, (3) economy and employment, (4) energy, and (5) rule of law and democracy.

The 2010 earthquake caused $7.8 billion in damage and a contraction in Haiti’s GDP. Much of Haiti’s economy is dependent on the agriculture sector and is vulnerable to shocks in commodity prices and natural disasters; hurricanes and severe droughts in recent years have further affected agricultural output.  Most agricultural production is for domestic consumption; the apparel sector accounts for an estimated 90 percent of Haiti’s exports. Remittances from the Haitian diaspora are a primary source of income.

Lack of infrastructure and human capital is a constraint to private investment, but Haiti’s geographic proximity to the U.S. and Latin American markets, as well as its preferential free trade agreements, offer lucrative opportunities for domestic entrepreneurship and foreign investment. New legislation designed to improve the investment climate is expected to be taken up by the new parliament when it is elected, including new mining, insurance, and labor codes; a law establishing a public credit bureau; and new construction permit regulations. The Government of Haiti has prioritized investment promotion in the tourism, agriculture, construction, energy, and manufacturing sectors.