Haiti prime minister wants more scrutiny for NGOs

AP News
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Posted: Apr 07, 2011 5:34 PM
Haiti prime minister wants more scrutiny for NGOs

Too many foreign charities are working in Haiti without supervision and need to provide more information about their activities so the government can better manage earthquake reconstruction, the prime minister said Thursday.

Foreign non-governmental organizations, which piled into Haiti after the devastating January 2010 quake, are often duplicating services provided by the government or competing with it for international aid money, Prime Minister Jean-Max-Bellerive said.

"We need them today," Bellerive told reporters at a conference to discuss how to speed up the stalled reconstruction effort. "But I need to know how much money they receive and from where."

There are an estimated 10,000 humanitarian groups working in Haiti, so many the country was sometimes called the Republic of NGOs even before the earthquake. Haitian officials have long criticized foreign groups for offering higher salaries that lure talented people away from government jobs.

Foreign charities provide many vital services, including medical treatment and education for hundreds of thousands of Haitians who would otherwise have no access to either. Some aid workers are reluctant to work with the government, which many perceive as corrupt and inefficient.

Bellerive said the government is working on legislation that would force foreign groups to register and provide more information about their activities and finances.

"We have some procedures that we are proposing, that could be put in place to better control them," he said.

The prime minister, who is the co-chairman with former U.S. President Bill Clinton of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, is scheduled to end his term in office May 14, when a new president takes power.

Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly, who was elected president according to preliminary results released Monday, said during his campaign that he also supports efforts to require more accountability from foreign aid groups.

Bellerive met Wednesday in private with Martelly's advisers. The prime minister said they discussed the upcoming hurricane season, plans to improve education and the role of NGOs in Haiti. He rebuffed a question about whether he could serve again as prime minister under Martelly.