The 2018-2019 fiscal year just came to an end and all macroeconomic indicators point to a period of economic stagnation as political actions have clearly hijacked economic activities. While the economy is in a tailspin, with little to zero productivity and all commercial activities crippled over the past two weeks, the economic outlook for the country could not be grimmer. The exchange rate, inflation and economic growth rate have attained new record lows during the fiscal year. As gloomy as things are, the political environment has made it impractical and improbable that a new budget and plan for the coming year could be achieved. There are more than 5 million people dealing with the prospects of food scarcity, with some 2.6 million in dire need of food aid, such that any new government will have to tackle these issues as soon as possible, and given that the country is yet to come up with new financial regulations and budget, the previous year’s budget will have to be maintained going forward, unless a new one is voted on, which is unlikely, given the ever worsening political climate in the country.
Despite the ongoing political tensions, the government went ahead with new appointments, which involved the reappointment of current ministers in the outgoing Prime Minister Jean Michel Lapin’s administration. Published in the official gazette, Le Moniteur, the former Minister of Justice and Public Safety, Jean Roudy Aly, has been named Minister of Planning and External Cooperation. Former Minister of the environment Joseph Jouthe has been named action Minister of Economics and Finance. Other acting cabinet positions include the former Minister of Women Affairs, Evelyne Sainvil, who is now responsible for Diasporan Affairs and the Defense Minister Enold Joseph now heads the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Pierre Josué Agenor, the Education Minister is now responsible for the Ministry of Interior while the Director Genersal of the same ministry, Fednel Monchéry was replaced by Amos Zephyrin. There have been other changes in almost all the Ministries, including the national police where Commissioner Jean-Claude Jean has been chosen to head the Saint-Marc police station, replacing Marie Dieunane Borgelin Joseph. This change comes; three days after the police sub-station located at the entrance of Saint-Marc, was attacked, burglarized and then set on fire by angry protesters. The police were disarmed before fleeing for their lives.
These cabinet changes were announced in a speech by President Moïse, during a recent address to the nation in which he again called for dialogue with the opposition. In the same vein, the President once again called on religious leaders to help broker a peace deal that will nudge the main actors, especially in the opposition to come to the table for a dialogue. In a letter to the group of religious leaders known as Religions pour la paix Haïti (RPPH), the office of the president is asking that this organization again attempt regrouping the various religious interests in the country for their intervention. The country is in a stand still now, with two failed attempts to vote on the policies and nomination of the new Prime Minister, while the opposition is still adamant about the departure of the president as pre-condition for any dialogue on national unity. This is the second time the president is making the same demands of the religious leaders and for their part; the organization said they will write to the various parties to discuss what needs to be accomplished.
It has been more than three weeks of intense protests called by a group seeking to rebuild the nation by calling for the President to go. New demonstrations have been met with police firing live ammunition into the crowds, injuring a journalist from Radio Sans Fin (RSF). With the situation deteriorating at such an alarming rate, there are calls from certain quarters for the creation of a security zone where humanitarian activities can continue to be undertaken. Hospitals and water distribution centers have run out of fuel to continue their operations. The President of the Hospitals Association, Dr. Franck Geneus, is calling for creating a security zone and protect ambulances and hospitals as the situation that is keeping the capital under siege continues, without any clear end in sight. He calls for the provision of fuel to hospitals so that they can transport the sick, and also financing for hospitals that are cash strapped. The Director of the water company, DINEPA, Guyto Édouard, warned that pumping stations will cease to work if fuel is not delivered quickly to the stations because the substations use 18,000 gallons of fuel every two weeks, while the blocking of roads across the capital has made delivery of such substance as chlorine to treat the water, difficult.
Finally, it seems the situation in the country has been so dire that, with no solution in sight, people can only turn to a higher authority for guidance. This is precisely what the Protestant Federation of Haiti decided to do by call on the faithful to observe two days of prayer on October 1st and 2nd. The theme for the call to prayer is “the persecuted church, a return to calm” calling on heaven to send us concerned and responsible leaders. In a note relayed by the evangelical platform Koze Kretyen, Rev Calixte Fleuridor said that this appeal is made to all Protestant Christians in Haiti. They are not the first religious establishment to attempt to intercede in the never-ending conflict. Other religious communities have reacted to the recent anti-government movements that have already caused several deaths and other damage across the country. The Episcopal Conference of Haiti, in a press release, recalled that the current leaders, elected and political leaders of Haiti, were all responsible for the current reality, while the Catholic Bishops invited them to face the consequences of their accumulated failures, especially President Jovenel Moïses.