Tue Jul 25, 2006 8:13 PM ET
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) – International donors pledged $750 million on Tuesday to help fund impoverished Haiti’s economic recovery efforts for the next fiscal year.
The pledges exceeded the $540 million requested by the newly elected government of President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis in immediate donations to help build roads, schools and hospitals and to strengthen Haiti’s police force and judicial system.
Delegates from about 40 nations and financial institutions gathered in Port-au-Prince for a conference aimed at helping the turbulent and destitute Caribbean country build social and economic stability.
The World Bank’s director for the Caribbean, Caroline Anstey, said she was encouraged by the new government’s assurances that the money would be spent responsibly.
“I think Mr. Preval and Mr. Alexis have made strong commitments to that kind of transparency, accountability that donors request to move forward,” Anstey said. “It’s a new beginning. We need to act now to break that vicious cycle of poverty, insecurity and instability.”
The pledges were expected to clear the way for Preval’s government to submit a budget to parliament for the fiscal year that begins on October 1
“We are delighted by the commitment of the international community,” Alexis said. “Its response has been enthusiastic. We’ll make sure those funds are used for good ends.”
Haiti has requested $7 billion to pay for long-term efforts to improve security, health and agriculture and promote institutional reform in the poorest country in the Americas. Donors planned to meet again in November in Madrid to consider long-term funding for Haiti.
Participants in the meeting included delegates from the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Union and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The donor community pledged $1.3 billion in 2004 to help Haiti rebuild after an armed rebellion toppled the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but the interim government that replaced Aristide complained that not all the money had been disbursed.
The World Bank pledged $61 million for the next year, on top of $66 million already committed.
The donor pledges for the coming year include $120 million to compensate employees who were fired arbitrarily during the interim administration, fund job training, establish small businesses and integrate former soldiers into the civilian work force.
The pending long-term funding request includes $1.2 billion for health projects and $1.5 billion for public works projects, including a road system that would link all of Haiti’s provinces.
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