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GDP growth in Haiti less than expected

Friday, December 14, 2012    

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - THE International Monetary Fund says new data shows that Haiti's gross domestic product grew 2.5 per cent, much less than initially expected for the fiscal year ending September 30.

The IMF said in a statement this week that the GDP growth rate for the 12-month period initially had been projected to reach 4.5 per cent.

But a spring drought and a hurricane damaged major crops. Inflation has also accelerated since June, reaching 6.8 per cent in October, mainly because of rising food prices.

The IMF says GDP growth could reach six to seven per cent next year.

Protesters have held a series of marches in Haiti in recent months to complain about the high cost of living in the impoverished Caribbean country.

Haiti is the poorest nation in the Americas. In January 2010, the country was hit by a massive earthquake that killed more than 225,000 people, destroyed much of the capital Port-au-Prince and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

The deadly earthquake brought a thread of hope in its aftermath: a promise of renewal. With the United States taking the lead, international donors pledged billions of dollars to help the country "build back better," breaking its cycle of dependency.

But after the rubble was cleared and the dead buried, what the quake laid bare was the depth of Haiti's dysfunction. Today, the fruits of an ambitious, US$1.8-billion reconstruction promise are hard to find. Immediate, basic needs for bottled water, temporary shelter and medicine were the obvious priorities. But projects fundamental to Haiti's transformation out of poverty, such as permanent housing and electric plants in the heavily hit capital of Port-au-Prince have not taken off.

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