Friday, March 26, 2010

Haiti’s Preval to Seek $3.9 Billion at UN Meeting on Rebuilding

By Bill Varner

(Bloomberg) -- Haiti President Rene Preval will join U.S. and United Nations leaders next week in seeking $3.9 billion to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure following the January earthquake that caused more than 200,000 deaths.

The UN, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank will present a 250-page reconstruction plan at a donors’ conference in New York on March 31, according to Jordan Ryan, director of the UN Development Program’s crisis prevention and recovery unit. Ryan said as many as 60 nations may pledge new funds.

Ryan said Preval also will submit a 50-page Haitian government “Vision and Plan” for his nation’s long-term economic development.

“The government decided very early on that they didn’t want just to focus on the earthquake and the damage of the earthquake,” Ryan said in an interview. “They wanted to seize the opportunity of the earthquake to, in a sense, re-launch a development path for Haiti.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon will join Preval in opening the daylong conference at the UN. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the UN’s special envoy for Haiti, also will speak at the conference, which foreign ministers of France and Japan are expected to attend, Ryan said.

Assessing Needs

Ryan was one of the leaders of a monthlong mission to Haiti that produced the Post Disaster Needs Assessment report focusing on rebuilding schools, hospitals, government ministries, roads, airports and ports. It will propose creation of what he called a “multidonor trust fund,” to be overseen by the World Bank, to channel pledges to reconstruction needs.

The $3.9 billion will cover reconstruction for about two years, Ryan said. The longer term price tag has been estimated at $11.5 billion.

The government deserves a “B or B+” for its participation in the needs assessment mission, Ryan said, while saying that some ministries remain hindered by losses of personnel and offices. About 200 Haitians and 153 international experts worked on the assessment report.

Emphasis is being placed on what Ryan described as “building back better,” meaning new construction codes, housing developments that shift the population from the capital Of Port-au-Prince and environmental goals such as reversing the deforestation of much of Haiti.

The Inter-American Development Bank may approve a $2 billion grant for Haiti, Executive Vice President Daniel Zelikow said this week. Haiti would receive $200 million a year for 10 years, Zelikow said in an interview. The bank’s member countries are discussing the proposal for Haiti at an annual meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

The bank will forgive almost $500 million in debt owed to it by Haiti’s government, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said.

--Editors: Ann Hughey, Don Frederick

To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Varner at the United Nations at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jim Kirk at

Source: BusinessWeek

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