Haiti says ‘open for business’ with new government

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Haiti is “open for business” after its parliament approved a new government’s ambitious plan to relaunch the economy after last year’s catastrophic earthquake, Haitian leaders said yesterday.

After an all-night session, the impoverished Caribbean country’s Chamber of Deputies overwhelmingly endorsed the programme of Prime Minister Garry Conille and his new cabinet.

The Senate already had approved the programme, which foresees boosting economic growth in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest state to more than 9 percent annually, from around 6 percent expected this year after the 2010 contraction inflicted by the crippling earthquake.

Hoping to attract foreign aid and investment in a tough international economic climate, Conille’s government plans to modernize infrastructure and technology and establish urban and rural development zones and industrial manufacturing parks to create 1.5 million jobs in five years.

“This strategy aims to create thousands of jobs, causing a revolution of inclusive growth,” Conille told the parliament, saying he would seek partnerships with the private sector in a programme to reduce Haiti’s widespread chronic poverty.

The new cabinet headed by Conille, 45, a doctor and UN development expert, will be sworn in on Tuesday.

Parliament’s confirmation of Conille’s cabinet and its policy blueprint will be a relief to foreign governments and donors who have been awaiting the installation of the new administration to tackle Haiti’s huge reconstruction task following the January 12, 2010, earthquake.

Since President Michel Martelly took office in May vowing to “rebrand” Haiti from a development basket-case to a Caribbean success story, fractious lawmakers in parliament rejected his two previous picks for prime minister before Conille.

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