International donors are aiming to provide $3.8 billion over 18 months to help Haiti rebuild after its Jan. 12 earthquake, according to officials and experts preparing a high-level donors conference.
The initial target figure came in a statement released late on Wednesday after a two-day meeting in Dominican Republic of representatives of the Haitian government, donor nations, multilateral lenders, U.N. agencies and humanitarian groups.
The preparatory meeting, ahead of a scheduled March 31 donors conference in New York, set out the broad outlines of a reconstruction strategy for the Caribbean nation whose economy and infrastructure were decimated by the quake.
The government of Haiti, the poorest state in the Western Hemisphere, says at least 222,570 people and possibly more than 300,000 were killed in what some experts are calling the deadliest natural disaster of modern times.
"Donors are committing to provide $3.8 billion to finance the reconstruction and recovery of Haiti's priority needs, over a period of 18 months, as indicated in the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA)," said the statement from the joint chairmen of the Santo Domingo experts' meeting.
Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive chaired the two days of discussions that brought together 40 nations and institutions.
The World Bank's Director for the Caribbean, Yvonne Tsikata, described $3.8 billion as an "initial figure" contained in the PDNA document draft.
"It's a short-term target. It's work in progress," she said in a conference call with reporters. She said concrete commitments by donors would be made at the one-day "pledging conference" in New York on March 31.
The Santo Domingo meeting also announced a planned commitment to give Haiti's government an additional $350 million in direct budgetary support for 2010.
The World Bank's Board on Thursday approved a $65 million grant to Haiti for restoring key central bank and finance ministry functions, and essential infrastructure.
To manage the long-term reconstruction, the experts in Santo Domingo proposed the creation of a Multi-Donors Trust Fund (MDTF) to be administered by a steering committee jointly formed by the Haitian government and donors. The World Bank would supervise operation of the fund.
In the report that it presented to the Santo Domingo meeting, Haiti's government assessed the damage caused by the quake at more than $7.7 billion dollars. It estimated a total of $11.5 billion would be needed for reconstruction.
Corruption threat generates unease
Despite concerns about levels of government corruption in Haiti, which have stymied past aid efforts, the administration of Haitian President Rene Preval has insisted it should have the ultimate say in the reconstruction of the country.
"We'll accept all the help that you want to give us, but allow us to rebuild Haiti," Bellerive told the experts' conference, held at a seaside hotel in Santo Domingo.
Preval said on Tuesday that the Haitian presidency should have veto power over any reconstruction projects.
He angrily described as "arrogant" a U.S. State Department Human Rights report on Haiti for 2009, prepared before the January quake, which criticized widespread corruption "in all branches and at all levels" of the Haitian government.
Preval's irritation at the report threatened to sour Haiti's ties with its main quake relief partner, the United States, which has sent thousands of soldiers, doctors and aid workers to the Caribbean nation.
Two former U.S. presidents, Bill Clinton, who has been named by the United Nations as coordinator of the international relief effort, and George W. Bush, will visit Haiti together on Monday to support the recovery and reconstruction effort.
The experts' statement said the donors fund would seek to ease pressure on the overcrowded and wrecked capital Port-au-Prince by supporting development and infrastructure in other parts of the national territory. It would also seek to strengthen the private sector.
The document added that a commitment to good governance and transparency by the Haitian government was essential.
Occupying the western half of the island of Hispaniola, the former French colony of Haiti won independence in 1804 through a slave revolt and has had a history of uprisings, coups, dictatorships, poverty and social upheaval.
The statement stipulated "a commitment to hold elections in Haiti as soon as possible to avoid a political vacuum."
Preval has said he would not seek to extend his term beyond its scheduled conclusion on Feb. 11, 2011, and says he is confident that legislative elections -- originally scheduled for Feb. 28 -- can be reorganized in good time.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 19 Mart 2010, 08:24