How can Haiti develop?

NALs

Economist by Profession
Jan 20, 2003
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The good news is that from an economic point of view, Haiti doesn't have to reinvent the wheel. It should, with a few modifications, 'cut & paste' what has worked in other societies that not long ago were underdeveloped and today are not.

Singapore is a good example:

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And who is truly responsible for Singapore's economic miracle?

None other than the dutch economist Albert Winsemius.

Singapore is perhaps one of the few cases where politicians actually follow through on economic plans developed by an economist without the politicians modifying the original plans. Typically politicians accept part of the plans offered by economists. If the outcome is favorable the politicians take the credit and if unfavorable they never fail to blame the economists, never mentioning the modifications the politicians implemented due to political reasons.

In any case, Haiti should seriously consider implementing a development program similar to that of Singapore.
 

Chip

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Jul 25, 2007
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Without the proper infrastructure, Haiti will go nowhere. Sure, sewer, water, power and roads are boring but they are the building blocks of a modern society. Not only that, foreign investment will not happen without these.
 

bachata

Aprendiz de todo profesional de nada
Aug 18, 2007
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Without the proper infrastructure, Haiti will go nowhere. Sure, sewer, water, power and roads are boring but they are the building blocks of a modern society. Not only that, foreign investment will not happen without these.

I was going to say something about this but better I stay quite.

Como decia mi abuelo:

En boca cerrada no entran moscas..


JJ
 

Vacara

I love AZB!
May 5, 2009
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They also will need to police new construction in the area to safeguard against unsafe construction; one of the main causes of the loss of life. No more homes with little or no rebar will be allowed and certainly aggregate materials will be inspected for salt contamination.

What you are asking is imposible unless somewhere, somebody have invented some kind of material that allows people to build safer houses, cheaper.

Must probably, Haiti will be rebuild the same way it was, with the same material and the same conditions that made this tragedy possible. It sounds sad but is the reality.
 

Chip

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Jul 25, 2007
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What you are asking is imposible unless somewhere, somebody have invented some kind of material that allows people to build safer houses, cheaper.

Must probably, Haiti will be rebuild the same way it was, with the same material and the same conditions that made this tragedy possible. It sounds sad but is the reality.

You should first read all of my posts regarding this topic before opining.
 

pedrochemical

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Aug 22, 2008
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I have seen plenty of projects in Haiti.
Now speaking as someone who was brought up as a big hippy, left wing tree hugging liberal, socialist in the UK it pains me to say that the successful projects have one thing in common.
They are self-sustainable.
To be self-sustainable they all must make a profit.
At a time like this 'profit' is a dirty word for many.

A bit of background.
Haiti has received massive aid over the last few years.
Haitians have received virtually no aid over the last few years.

Firstly I must stress that there are many competent and well meaning people who work in NGOs in Haiti. I do not want to tar them all with the same brush.

The NGO business exists to sustain the overblown salaries of the people who are involved. People have careers and hugely inflated salaries at stake. They will never let this income stream go.
They hold meetings in The Montana Hotel and Karibe Hotel at massive expense to discuss what they should be doing and 'what Haiti needs'.
Well they are going to have to change location as tragically the Montana no longer exists (170US$ per night for the cheap rooms and 12US$ for a gin & Tonic. Breakfast on Sunday was a bargain - all you can eat for 7US$) and from what I hear, the Karibe Hotel is a little disheveled for now.

I remember in 2008 when I went for breakfast at Hotel Villa Creole 4 days after the floods in Gonaives. The car park out front was full of 70,000US$ brand new, gleaming fully loaded Landcruisers fitted with snorkels and all the latest off road extras. These cars were absolutely brand new - they still had the little nobbles on the tires showing that they had not been driven any further than the short ride up the hill from where they were imported.
Inside I could not get a seat because this 130US$ per night hotel was full of rescue workers, chilling out by the pool and eating the 20US$ breakfast.
I saw that there were no floods in Port au Prince and wondered, perhaps, if they should drive up the road to Gonaives to rescue some survivors.
They told me that there was no way through to Gonaives as the bridge in St Marc was down. I pointed out that our guys managed to get there 2 days ago and they were driving simple 27,000US$ Mazda pick-up trucks. There was a way round St Marc if they actually took the trouble to go there and look - heck, we could even send one of the boys with them if they liked.
These guys are typically on 9,000US$ plus all expenses, plus per diem of around 100US$.
We counted 20 vehicles out front.
So why did our telecomms guys get there yet the hardy rescue hero professionals could not get there?

Nothing more that MONEY!

(And before Chippyboy gets all pious and asks why it was OK for me to be eating breakfast there and not these bludgers - I paid for my breakfast with my hard earned cash! The US tax payer was paying for their holidays.I wish someone would pay for me to hang out at Villa Creole all day!)

Our guys were there to get the Digicel cell phone network up and running. It is well known that he who gets his network up and running first is going to make a killing.
The rescue guys were merely concerned with saving lives. There is no profit in that so why get so stressed about it? Better to relax and sit by the rather nice pool at Villa Creole.
In fact one of the posters on this board was on the first boat into Gonaives sailing through the night on a rather knackered looking flat bottomed barge, coughing up diesel fumes and making alarming clanking noises that should, quite frankly, not have been at sea. Whilst there they evacuated as many people as they could and distributed clean water and other essentials as well as delivering equipment and technicians to get the network up and running - an essential part of any rescue operation.
Remember - this outrage had nothing to do with the Haitian government and the whole disgrace was perpetrated and paid for by foreigners.

Contrast this huge waste of taxpayer money and shocking dereliction of duty (remember these guys although 'volunteers' were getting paid big bucks to lay around doing sod all at your expense) with my next little story.

Whilst buying asphalt I noticed on the manager's desk an old fashioned technical drawing of Cabaret, a small town 35km North of Port au Prince, and the river which without fail every year floods the town and kills between 30 - 50 people. It doesn't even make the front page of La Nouvelliste these days as it happens every year and heck, it is only 30-50 people after all.
The drawing was a design for installing gabions to control the flow of the river for the annual flood. The cost of the entire project was 3.5 million US$ including 25% profit for the guy who wanted to take the project on.
Most cities around the world are built around rivers and usually the rivers are diverted or controlled in some way to protect people and business.
Here was a project that simply could not get funding.
It costs the UN more that 3.5million US$ in 'administration' and 'security' to fart in the right direction in Haiti. Although plant hire in Haiti is a little expensive, manual labour is cheap and plentiful and the materials, apart from the steel wire for the cages is already on site.

Whoever you blame for this injustice, the Haitian Government, the UN or the NGOs, it is obvious there is a problem with the distribution of funds. Again, Haiti receives massive amounts of aid but Haitians do not.

Maybe the project falls down the cracks in the middle of the NGO / aid industry. It is too small for most to bother with yet too large for private individuals.
But the main problem is that you cannot see the results. You cannot point to the 50 people that did not die this year so there is no photo opportunity. The project is hidden from view - so no glory there.
It will probably never happen until I win the lottery.
And consider that these people were living there well before this problem arose. How much would it cost to relocate these people to Port au Prince? And how much damage would having 50,000 extra people in Port au Prince cause?


These are 2 of many examples.




To sum up - I say that the only way to develop Haiti is to make it pay. Much as I hate the idea of the free-market being king, in Haiti's case a little petty capitalism is the only thing that will be sustainable.
When there is no bottom line little gets done.
Strangely, when money is at stake, things start to happen.
Many businesses in Haiti (foreign or domestic) make a decent profit by employing local contractors who employ local people.
I hope whatever money that does come into Haiti to rebuild is not directed, as in Iraq, to the big US companies who export the profit.
That would be another tragedy.
I also hope that the career report writers do not absorb the lion's share discussing what should be done.
I also hope that the Haitian government will 'open-book' what ever projects are carried out.

I guess I am dreaming.

This is about one tenth of what I have to say on the subject but I appreciate this is a lot to digest at once.
 
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Chip

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Jul 25, 2007
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Sounds like a royal mess to me.

I could easily put together a team of professionals to plan and design the infrastructure I have proposed is needed at a fraction of the cost. It isn't like it's rocket science or anything. The lead engineer should make no more than US125k a year and should have room, board and a car, but a very limited expense account. The veteran engineers and planner shouldn't make more than US80-90 a year and the junior engineers much less. Honestly, a lot of planning could be done in Central Florida at firms that are dying for work - what they really need to get started are the surveys - which would gladly be done by a number of surveying firms in the same predicament.

All I can say is if I was in charge I would make it happen and wouldn't be looking to get rich doing it. After all, I was raised to remember the golden rule.
 

pedrochemical

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Aug 22, 2008
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The reason that we were successful in construction in Haiti - actually made money and got the job done - is because we knew when we were getting fleeced.
That is, as a rule of thumb, all the time.
The golden rule in Haiti as my long time friend and colleague told me when I first went there is:
The first thing out of a contractor's mouth is a lie.

You need locals to actually get things done but for the first couple of years at least, they are going to try and take you for everything you have. I have been watching this with a mining exploration company of whom I hear terrible tales. The thievery extended from the top pros down to the the lowliest shovel guy.
They have vast resources and the potential payout for them is so huge that strategically it makes sense for them to live with the crap and get the job done quick. For the smaller contractor, not so.
Eventually you separate the wheat from the chaff and you build a team that keeps the pilfering to a reasonable level.

The problem is that this pilfering and corruption saturates the business from top to bottom.
Whether it is cheating on the re-bar, skimping on the cement, trying to forge the concrete hardness tests - you have to supervise and not take anything for granted.

After the school collapse in Narette last year I was always happy to overspec the job a little. Fortunately most of what we did was underground so it isn't likely to fall on anybody. ;)


Another problem is that when the UN is handing out contracts, if the job is more than 2000US$ then they have a protocol that requires local contractors to bid and then the job gets tied up in paper work for literally years. This is all in the name of stopping corruption but it means that
nothing gets done until New York makes a decision.

For example, a guy was trying to build 10 towers round the south of the country to improve their comms situation.
3 years later I think 3 of the towers were built.
'You the people' are paying this guy a LARGE SALARY to be frustrated in his attempts to do the job.

The UN are good payers however other companies that should know better have delayed our payments to a point that is has cost us hard cash.

It is a minefield.
Most of your time is spent trying not to get ripped off too badly and trying to get invoices paid.
What is essential is to be aware of every facet of the business from ordering materials to contracts negotiations to employment contracts to design to blah, blah blah.

Oh, and until you do develop your dream team, have as few direct employees as possible. Use subcontractors as much as possible.
If you want to hire 40 guys, hire 1 team leader and let him hire the other guys. They are less likely to screw him and he is less likely to screw you.

I think we got a lot of our work as we were the only people crazy enough to take Haiti on.....

Man, I have turned into some ugly, hard-assed capitalist. Maybe I am growing up in my old age?

Also, pay the locals a living wage, please.
It is easier to sleep at night.
 

NALs

Economist by Profession
Jan 20, 2003
13,763
3,328
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The question now is whether the wealthy elite that controls the bulk of the economy will help rebuild Haiti and create a thriving middle class. Eighty percent of Haitians live in poverty, while a handful of often light-skinned descendants of the French, who ruled the country’s coffee and sugar slave plantations until Haiti declared independence in 1804, and other groups control most of the wealth.

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He said he misses the Duvaliers, the father and son who ruled Haiti for 29 years in brutal dictatorships. For him, though, life was safer.

“Under Duvalier we had security,’’ he said. “You could go out at anytime and come back anytime you wanted.’’


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Gilbert Bailly, a 42-year-old owner of the Muncheez pizzerias, said the government should make it easier for the well-off to invest, instead of criticizing them for their wealth.

“We’ve been carrying all the blame all our lives because they’ve been using us as bait for them to get in power,’’ said Bailly, who is sleeping in his car because his house collapsed and his son is afraid to sleep indoors. They say “ ‘Hate the light-skinned ones. They don’t want you to get an education.’ We give them jobs. We pay the government to give them jobs.’’


Much rests on Haiti elite
Stung by losses, the wealthy consider fleeing or rebuilding