Agreements Signed To Jump-Start Economy, Create Jobs
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ U.S. and International Monetary Fund officials announced several loan packages for Haiti on Wednesday, but the main motto for the day was ``Jobs, jobs.″
Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott announced that the United States had organized a $65 million line of credit supported by the Overseas Private Investment Corp. through First National Bank of Boston.
In Washington, IMF officials approved the immediate release of a $26 million line of credit under an agreement that holds President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government to stringent economic reforms.
The IMF approval also ``paves the way to unblock millions in aid,″ said Haitian Prime Minister Smarck Michel.
A Grand Rapids, Mich. firm, H.H. Cutler, renewed shoe contracts in Port-au-Prince with local Haitian companies that would create 1,500 new jobs.
Talbott said the United States would provide nearly $1 million for a Haitian commission to identify critical legal changes to ease business in the Caribbean nation and employment of its work force.
Accompanied by more than 25 U.S. business leaders on a two-day visit, Talbott helped inaugurate the U.S.-Haiti Business Development Council and a U.S. commercial office.
Asked what all the pieces of paper would produce, Talbott, responded: ``Jobs, jobs.″
Employment is an overwhelming need of Haitians who suffered through the U.S.-led embargo against the military coup that ousted Aristide in 1991, nine months after he won Haiti’s first free elections.
The sanctions destroyed the already battered economy, leaving three-quarters of the people underemployed or unemployed. Since Aristide was returned by U.S. troops in October, businesses have been slow to return, waiting for evidence of political stability.