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Cablegate: Haiti Economic Weekly Update for August 10 to August 14

P 261821Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0320
INFO HAITI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO

UNCLAS PORT AU PRINCE 000758


STATE FOR WHA/EX AND WHA/CAR
S/CRS
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR
INR/IAA
WHA/EX PLEASE PASS USOAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ENRG EAID EAGR EINV ETRD BEXP HA
SUBJECT: HAITI ECONOMIC WEEKLY UPDATE FOR AUGUST 10 TO AUGUST 14,
2009

1. (U) Summary. This is a weekly report on a variety of topics of
interest which do not merit full reporting cables. End summary.

Call to Action
--------------

2. (U) The Second Congress of the Haitian Diaspora met in Miami on
August 6 through 9. GoH Prime Minister Michele Pierre Louis and
former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the Special Envoy of UN
Secretary General for Haiti, were present. The Prime Minister
challenged all Haitians to unite and face the problems in Haiti.
President Clinton expressed his readiness to attract investors to
Haiti and work as a facilitator but emphasized that the main work
must be done by Haitians.

New Kid in Town
---------------

3. (U) Simpson Oil Limited (SOL), a Barbados company, purchased the
ESSO gas stations in Haiti. The first SOL gas station opened August
6 in Ption-Ville. SOL, like all other fuel distribution companies
in Haiti, gets its product through the GoH, which receives all of
its fossil fuels from Venezuela under a PetroCaribe agreement.

Environmental Cooperation
-------------------

4. (U) The Ministers of Environment for Haiti, Cuba, and the
Dominican Republic signed the Caribbean Biologic CorridorQs Plan of
Action on August 7. The plan aims at spurring environmental,
social, economic, and cultural projects in the region and
coordinating policies of the three countries to protect the
environment. UNDP (United Nations Development Program) and UNEP
(United Nation Environment Program) both support the Corridor.

More Miles to the Dollar
------------------------

5. (U) On August 10, the price of gasoline 95 in Haiti decreased 10
percent from HTG 182 to HTG 164 (USD 4.55 to USD 4.10); the price of
gasoline 91 went down 12 percent from HTG 180 to HTG 159 (USD 4.50
to USD 3.98). The price of diesel decreased 11 percent from HTG 115
to HTG 102 (USD 2.88 to USD 2.55), and the price of kerosene dropped
9 percent from HTG 109 to HTG 99 (USD 2.73 to USD 2.48).

H1N1 Flu Update
----------------

6. (U) According to the General Director of the Health Ministry,
Haiti has ten confirmed cases of the H1N1 Virus, also known as Swine
Flu.

All that Glitters
-----------------

7. (U) PHI GROUP, a California-based mining company, has signed an
agreement with VCS Mining, of Nevada, to implement mining operations
in Haiti's North-East and South-East Departments. The VCS-PHI joint
venture will initially focus on exploration in selected locations
that are expected to show significant mineral deposits (mainly gold
and copper). (Note: Newmont Mining, the U.S.-based number two global
gold mining company, is already moving ahead on surface and
subsurface gold mining operations in two places in Haiti. End
note.)

National Budget
---------------

8. (U) The President of the Finance Commission of the Lower House of
Parliament expressed doubts that the budget will pass until the
so-called Q14th monthQ bonus (paid before the start of the school
year to offset parentsQ expenses) and funds for local communities
are included in the draft presented to Parliament.

9. (U) The Prime Minister appeared before the Lower House of
Parliament to defend the funding for her office and guarantee proper
management of the HTG 720 million (USD 18 million) allocated to the
Prime MinisterQs office.

10. (U) The Prime Minister and three of her ministers (Finance,
Planning, and Public Works) attended a Senate session to outline the
GoH budgetary approach for FY10. According to Minister of Finance
Dorsainvil, the 14th month salary bonus will not be paid out this
year, but the GoH will guarantee every employee in the public sector
a minimum wage of HTG 6,000 (USD 150) per month. (Note: The 13th
month and 14th month bonuses are extra months wages paid to public
sector employees in late August/early September for school expenses
and again at the end of the year for holiday expenses. This
expenditure has historically been a line item in the national
budget. End note.)

11. (U) The Lower House postponed the session to vote the FY10
budget; passage is mandated by the end of August.

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