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Newsreel-June 20th, 2018

President Jovenel Moïse has set his eyes on one of the major problems facing the country as part of his anti-corruption campaign.  The President revealed that almost all major public-sector contracts awarded by the Haitian government during the past 10 years have been over contractors have continuously overcharged the government for purchases of goods and services. Mr Moïse blamed this overcharging on leaders in both public and private sector enterprises. To address this scourge on the national government, the president is authorizing the public procurement commission, la commission nationale des marchés publics, CNMP, with the mandate to properly do its job; to rein in this unfortunate practice. Mr. Moïse wants to strengthen the commission at the same time recognizing the difficulty that comes with their tasks. The CNMP on its part has indicated that efforts are being made to avoid possible acts of corruption in the procurement process but at the contracting entity level, they are currently unable to control any corrupt practices there. According to the spokesperson of the CNMP, Jean Marie Florian, the institution alone can do but so much to address the institutional corruption that pervades the procurement process, however, if the institution is to be effective in fighting corruption, then the laws must change because as it now stands, the power granted to the CNMP is very limited. The commission has planned a two-day symposium to raise awareness of the agency’s mission and duties for the general public.

 

In other presidential news, the Moïse administration is claiming success in the outcome of the Caravan of Change program in the North. The report cited works on road networks around Cap Haïtien and Trou du Nord. These projects aim to fix the streets around these cities that tended to flood during regular rainfall, and also drain the canals around popular residential areas. Road rehabilitation works are also being done on secondary roads in the city of Christophienne, while the districts of Petite-Anse, Chada, Fò Sen Michèl and the airport road also benefited from the Caravan of Change program. According to the authorities, infrastructure works such as these are part of the effort to restore native pride in Cap-Haïtien. At the same time, engineers are hard at work in the President’s hometown of Trou du Nord, repairing roads and canals.

 

Elsewhere, the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Education (MENFP) has announced that this year’s baccalaureate exams will take place from June 25-28, and preparatory arrangements have been made and measures taken to ensure successful running of the exams. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, June 18, 2018, Minister Pierre Josué Agénor Cadet said that despite some hiccups in the preparation for the exams, everything is now set for the exams process to move forward. Cards which would have been distributed to candidates 22 days before the official exams will be handed out to them this week. Across the country, 144,760 candidates, including 102,447 regular candidates, 38,372 returnees and 3,941 New Secondary (Secondary IV) candidates, are expected to take the exams. For this first exam period of the academic year, the West department is expected to register the highest participation rate, with more than 50,000 candidates and Nippes, part of the southwest is expected to record the lowest participation rate with a total of 2,246 candidates. The total cost to the national treasury for these exams will be 600 million gourdes. The tests will be clear and precise while the correction and result proclamation will be done within a reasonable timeframe.

 

This year, the Ministry of Education is cracking down heavily on cheaters with heavy penalties for those caught cheating. The Ministry prohibits the use of mobile phones in test centers as well as the use of laptops, because using such mobile devices to cheat during exams has become a phenomenon in the country for some time. Only exam officials are allowed to use mobile phones under certain circumstances, and security personnel guarding the exam papers and the entire examination will not be allowed to carry arms around the perimeter of the exam halls. Any person found violating these rules will have their exams annulled and may lose their jobs, and anyone caught red-handed in the vicinity and / or in the examination centers will be arrested and handed over to  judicial authorities.

 

The ministry is also targeting schools, especially those schools that are not performing well. According to the Ministry, schools with low success rate in official exams will not be allowed to enroll their students in such exams in the future. The Minister has announced that he has taken steps to withdraw the license of 34 schools as part of their efforts to regularize the system.

Meanwhile, five people have been reported dead and some 30-people hospitalized with a resurgence of cholera in Cornillon Grand Bois in the West department, according to the representative from the area, Raymond Rival. The lawmaker called on health officials in the ministry of health and of the water commission, DINEPA, to do something about the situation. According to the Ministry of Health, there have been 725 cases of cholera reported during the first nine epidemiological weeks of the current year (January 1 through March 3, 2018) with an incidence rate of 0.06%. In February, the Ministry of Health reported 249 suspected cases and 1 death, a decrease of 81 per cent and 92 per cent, respectively, compared to cases registered in the same period during prior years.

Workers at the Motor Vehicle insurance agency, l’Office d’assurance de véhicules contre tiers (OAVCT) have voted to continue their strike action that was started on Friday, June 15, 2018, according to their spokesperson, Jean Roudy Saint-Juste. The strike action calls for the resignation of Wolf Dubic, who is the head of the commission on restructuring, because according to the workers, the commission is unable to undertake its tasks such as normalizing the functions of the institution, recover the property allocated to the OAVCT, review appointment contracts and submit proposals to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Mr Saint Juste further stated that the sabotage of the computer system of the institution last Tuesday is a political attempt to intimidate them. Talks held earlier in May between the workers and management did not result in any meaningful solution. Work has come to a stand still at the agency for some time.

 

Finally, the world cup is finally underway with the first round of games played, creating some surprises. First, Russia beating Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game was the big shock of the week, given bookmakers’ not placing much stock in the Russian team. The next surprise came in the form of Spain sacking their coach, Julen Lopetegui, on the eve of the opening of the games and drawing 3-3 against Portugal, their neighbor and long-term rival. Other surprises included Argentina drawing 1-1 with Iceland and the El Tri beating Germany 1-0, while world cup debutants Panama were handed a 3-0 defeat by Belgium, and Senegal shocked Poland with a bizarre 2-1 win.

Dela Harlley

 

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