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To Haiti, IMF Announces $69.7M Program, Silent on Electricity, Cholera

By Matthew Russell Lee

WASHINGTON, May 20 -- With Haiti, the International Monetary Fund announced a $67.9 million arrangement under its Extended Credit Facility on May 20, 50 days after it answered Inner City Press on electrical subsidies that it was "in discussions with regard to a possible follow up program."

 The IMF's May 20 announcement, published here one minte after the embargo, says that

“The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a three-year SDR 49.14 million (about US$69.7 million, 60 percent of quota) arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) for Haiti on Monday, May 18, 2015. The approval enables the immediate disbursement of an amount equivalent to SDR 7.02 million (about US$10 million), while the remaining amount will be phased over the duration of the arrangement, subject to semi-annual program reviews.

“The authorities’ ECF-supported program aims to raise Haiti’s growth potential and reduce vulnerabilities to shocks, while entrenching macroeconomic stability.

“Following the Executive Board’s discussion on Haiti, Mr. Min Zhu, Deputy Managing Director, and Acting Chair, made the following statement:

'Haiti’s pursuit of macroeconomic stability in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake is commendable—growth has been positive, inflation has remained moderate, and international reserve levels adequate. Going forward, continued efforts are needed to support sustained and inclusive growth, strengthen institutions and the policy framework, and maintain adequate buffers to absorb shocks.'”

 There was no mention of cholera, much less of the UN system's role.

 Back on March 26 after reports that the International Monetary Fund is pressuring Haiti to cut or "reform" electricity subsidies, Inner City Press went to the IMF and asked spokesperson William Murray about it. Video here, from Minute 39:23; transcript here:

Inner City Press: This is the kind of question that sometimes doesn’t get -- you can't get it in online. So I wanted to ask it since I'm here.

MR. MURRAY: Yeah, welcome to Washington.

Inner City Press: It has to do with Haiti. There's reporting in Haiti that the IMF may decline to sign an agreement or to proceed with them given the sub -- you know, if they continue to subsidize Electricite d'Haiti. And so, people are obviously very concerned. A lot of people don't have any electricity. Is that -- do you either know or can you get an answer on what the status of that is?

MR. MURRAY: Let me check to see. I don't, you know, this is not something that jumps out at me at the moment but let me see if I have something to offer you on that. We will get back to you and we'll share with everybody here. Hold on a second. Let me see if we have -- I have something on Haiti. I don't believe I have anything that's really current at the moment but let me just see.
Yeah, I don't. I'm going to have get back to you on that. We can talk afterwards and then, we'll share it. It'll go -- as our standard practice, when we receive questions, this is for the audience out there as well, when we receive questions of a nature where I don’t have an immediate answer, we will incorporate the answer -- the question and the answer that we give in the transcript that we publish and we'll make that -- we'll bracket it somehow to make sure it's clear that it was inserted. But you'll see also this conversation in the transcript.

  But when the transcript went online, there was no answer. 

On March 31, this arrived from the IMF:

"Here is what we have on your question on Haiti: 'At the request of the authorities, we are currently in discussions with regard to a possible follow up program.'”

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On March 18 after the UN Security Council held its semi-annual debate on Haiti, with 28 speakers, on March 18, Inner City Press  asked UN envoy Sandra Honore to explain paragraph 11 of her speech, in which she said:

"The radical opposition has continued to criticize the recent political breakthrough and has not desisted from organizing anti-Government demonstrations, calling for the resignation of President Martelly and capitalizing on socio-economic grievances such as the recent general strikes over fuel prices and teachers' salaries."

 Isn't it Haitians' right, to protest? Such protests elsewhere, against other leaders, are lionized. So what had Honore meant?

 She insisted it wasn't pejorative. Video here.  Inner City Press also asked about the spike in cholera cases, and to comment on if the UN denying and evading responsibility for bringing the disease harmed the UN's "legitimacy and moral standing."

 Honore cited a particular water source, and said cholera in Haiti has not impaired the UN's work around the world. Really? Video here.

 Honore's speech did not mention the UN mission MINUSTAH shooting at demonstrators. On March 17, Inner City Press asked the UN:

Inner City Press: on what you said about the reports becoming public, one suddenly came back to mind is the report from MINUSTAH on the shooting of demonstrators.  I know it's been said a number of times it was being finalized.  It happened in December and it's now March.  Is that released?  When is that report going to be released?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  We'll let you know once it can be… once it has been finalized for release.  But, at this stage, I believe what Stéphane has already said about this remains the case, that the person involved in this was suspended from duty.

 Honore on March 18 said MINUSTAH's report is finished and is "with" DPKO. We'll have more on this.


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