Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Sison on the occasion of the launch of the USAID project GERÉ

Good morning,

Your Excellence, Minister of Interior,
Your Excellence, Minister of Education,
Your Excellence, Minister of Justice and Planning,
Your Excellence, Minister of Economy and Finance,
Mr. President of FENAMH,
Mrs. President of FENAMH’s Women,
Mr. Uder Antoine, Chief of Party of GERÉ
Mrs. Lisa McGregor from RTI,

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the U.S. Government, I am pleased to attend the official launch of USAID Project Supporting the Efficient Management of State Resources (GERÉ project).

I am accompanied by Gary Juste, Director of USAID and other members of our staff at the US Embassy. First and foremost, the United States believes that our two nations, Haiti and the United States, have an opportunity to cement a future of democracy, prosperity, and security along with our partners throughout the Western Hemisphere and the region.

I want to emphasize the fact that such a path should remain firmly rooted in democratic governance and respect for the rule of law. We note that the 1987 national constitution—although hotly debated—created a framework for fundamental freedoms, rule of law, social and gender equity, and dynamic participation of citizens. A 2006 decree further codified the constitution’s decentralization processes.

This included a local government civil service; communal electoral and judicial procedures; municipal financial systems; and a framework that promotes civic participation of all of Haiti’s citizens, including women and youth. So, a key focus of the GERÉ project is to support Haiti’s decentralization efforts.

As mentioned by Mr. Uder Antoine, over the next three years, USAID’s GERÉ project has three main goals.

The first is to work with national and local government officials to manage and mobilize resources towards the improvement of service delivery. The project will also increase opportunities for greater engagement between citizens, civil society, and the private sector, as well as the government in defining and addressing its own development priorities. Finally, the project will improve communication, collaboration, and coordination across and between levels of government on policy, budget, and again, service delivery issues.

GERÉ activities will provide support and work with national as well as local government entities so that they can more effectively implement their priorities. We believe that Haiti possesses the key elements for a democratically oriented, representationally devolved, and economically open society. Today in Haiti, it is difficult to ascertain the amount of funding the country receives for development projects.

For these reasons, in partnership with the Ministry of Planning, the GERÉ project will support existing platforms on governance programming in Haiti to facilitate the availability of information on governance programming between donors, technical, and financial partners and the Government of Haiti.

With its Governance Innovation Fund, GERÉ will provide strategic subcontracts to local organizations, firms, and universities to test local revenue mobilization approaches.

GERÉ is committed to support the fight against corruption and the fight for transparency advocacy. Specifically, GERÉ will support the implementation of Programme de Modernisation des Administrations Communales and the establishment of internal audit structures in certain ministries and public institutions. It will also support the expansion of the unified exchange platform—a high tech, database communication system—in two additional public institutions: ULCC and UCREF.

Early in its implementation phase, GERÉ will provide technical support to Unité de Lutte contre la Corruption to update the National Strategy for the Fight against Corruption and the finalization of the implementation of the Global Anti-Money Laundering system for collecting information from L’Unité Centrale de Renseignements Financiers (UCREF). To improve the management of resource mobilization, the GERÉ project will undertake an assessment of CIVITAX, an effective tax collection system, in target communities in order to propose ways of improving the system.

Finally, the GERÉ project will provide support to the Ministry of Interior and Territorial Communities for the staffing of the selected communes and a standardized and more efficient management system for public markets.

These tools also helped the project to think about pathways that could allow women, young people and other marginalized populations to engage significantly in the decentralization process. The GERÉ project takes into account the results obtained from previous USAID projects that had helped central and local governments to provide services to citizens.

Today, provision of services is mostly done by non-governmental, religious or private organizations. Pursuant to USAID’s policy of moving towards self-sufficiency, it is essential to implement the decentralization process and to improve the provision of public services.

During the inception of the project, a study was conducted on political economy and the equality and inclusion of women. The study revealed the necessity to include women and young people in the decentralization process, politically and economically.

The use of these tools enabled GERÉ to assess fourteen communes and made recommendations about nine of them. During the initial phase, GERÉ will start with activities in two communes of the North – Pignon and St Raphael. Other communes will be added during the second and third phase. Considering the results of the study, GERÉ proposed two communes in North-East department –Terrier-Rouge and Caracol, two in the West department, –Tabarre and Arcahaie and two in the South – Cavaillon and Aquin. Other considerations will be made to reach a total of ten communes.

As we gather here today, we must recognize the Haitian people continue to suffer. During the months of September, October and November, “Pays lock” has interfered with the ability of Haitians to conduct daily life activities such as going to school and accessing health care, and directly contributes to violence and an increase in humanitarian needs for the people of Haiti. We continue to urge all stakeholders – political, economic, private sector and civil society – to work toward an inclusive dialogue without pre-conditions toward a Haitian-lead, nonviolent, and democratic solution in the days ahead.

The United States Government remains committed to supporting Haiti’s continued development path, economic growth, and journey to self-reliance and prosperity.

Thank you for being with us for the official launch of the GERÉ project.