Sunday, April 05, 2009

In the New York Times last week Ban Ki Moon noted: "Yes, Haiti remains desperately poor. It has yet to fully recover from last year's devastating hurricanes, not to mention decades of malign dictatorship. Yet we can report what President René Préval told us: 'Haiti is at a turning point.' It can slide backwards into darkness and deeper misery, sacrificing all the country's progress and hard work with the United Nations and international community. Or it can break out, into the light toward a brighter and more hopeful future."

Last August the secretary general was full of hope: "The time has come to rebuild the institutions that have been destroyed by years of neglect, corruption and violence, to strengthen them so that the State is able to deliver the services that the people need."

In his latest visit Ban said: "It is easy to visit Haiti and see only poverty. But when I visited recently with former President Bill Clinton, we saw opportunity. "My special adviser on Haiti, the Oxford University development economist Paul Collier, has worked with the government to devise a strategy. It identifies specific steps and policies to create those jobs with particular emphasis on the country's traditional strengths - the garment industry and agriculture. creating the sort of industrial 'clusters' that have come to dominate global trade.

". dramatically expanding the country's export zones, so that a new generation of textile firms can invest and do business in one place. By creating a market sufficiently large to generate economies of scale, they can drive down production costs and, once a certain threshold is crossed, spark potentially explosive growth constrained only by the size of the labour pool.

"That may seem ambitious in a country of nine million people, where 80 per cent of the population lives on less than $2 a day and half of the food is imported." Can anyone really be so ill-informed? Can anyone believe that a country of nine million poverty-stricken people living on less than $2 a day and importing half their food can generate thriving markets for anything but subsistence production? Ban Ki Moon is our new Dr Pangloss: All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

Hold on tight to your screams!

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