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Unjustified Haitian government spending related to Covid-19

  • March 29, 2024
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unjustified-haitian-government-spending-related-to-covid-19

The judiciary is still slow to shed light on this case as well as several other cases of corruption recorded in recent years

Read this article in French

Half a dozen state institutions have been singled out for misspending in the fight against Covid-19, according to a first audit report by the Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Litigation (CSCCA) published on June 8, 2022.

In less than a year, the sum of 9.22 billion gourdes – more than 70 million US dollars – was disbursed by the government of Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe during the presidency of Jovenel Moïse in order to take measures to deal with the health crisis.

More than five billion gourdes spent show anomalies such as non-justification of costs, doubts about the reality of the service provided as well as problems in the accuracy of the sums paid, according to the CSCCA.

The institution with the highest expenditure, the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), is failing to provide convincing explanations for nearly two billion gourdes allocated by the state in the fight against the pandemic.

Source : CSCCA – Audit Report on the Management of the Government Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, March 2020 – January 2021 period, Page 52.

Haitian State Expenditures - Corruption MSPP

Source : CSCCA – Audit Report on the Management of the Government Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, March 2020 – January 2021, Page 53.

As of March 2024, the justice system is still slow to move forward in this case as well as several other cases of potential corruption recorded at least since the 2010 earthquake.

According to specialists, the CSCCA must issue rulings against the calamitous management of the officials involved.

«The court will end up making these judgments» essential to prosecute the perpetrators of offenses such as embezzlement of public assets or theft that can be found in the management of the fund, Samuel Madistin, president of the Je Klere Foundation, told AyiboPost.

The CSCCA must issue rulings against the calamitous management of the officials involved.

However, this procedure is not necessary if corruption offences such as «bribery, illicit enrichment, over-invoicing, insider trading, favouritism, illegal taking of interest are found,» Madistin points out. «Because,» the lawyer continues, «these offences do not require prior authorization to initiate criminal proceedings.»

The government of former Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe had declared a health «state of emergency» on the national territory after the introduction of Covid-19 in Haiti in early 2020.

According to experts, the «state of emergency» provided for in the amended constitution of 29 March 1987 and the law of 15 April 2010 on the state of emergency encourages corruption because it allows spending to be made quickly, without going through normal procedures.

Read also: State of emergency and corruption go hand in hand in Haiti

According to the CSCCA audit, almost all public institutions involved in the management of these funds – ministries and other state agencies – are affected by the sometimes very serious anomalies.

State expenditure Haiti -Covid 19 - Corruption

Source : CSCCA – Audit report on the management of the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, period March 2020 – January 2021, Page 35.

The Economic and Social Assistance Fund (FAES) is the second institution behind the MSPP to have spent the most money during Covid-19.

Implicated in the past in several corruption scandals, this autonomous body is normally expected to support the government in its anti-poverty strategy.

The FAES had therefore received 2.3 billion gourdes as part of the fight against Covid-19, according to a report by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

According to the Court, 46 million gourdes of expenditure have insufficient supporting documents and 24 million have irregular justifications.

Corruption Haiti

Source : CSCCA – Audit Report on the Management of the Government Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, March 2020 – January 2021 period, Page 35.

In this case, FAES was to grant compensation for loss of income to workers in the Industrial Park of the Industrial Parks Company (SONAPI), provide financial assistance to households through Digicel’s MonCash service and distribute food kits.

65% of the kits have been virtually diverted, according to the CSCCA.

FAES spent more than 983 million gourdes to make MonCash transfers. Doubts persist about how this money was distributed.

The institution intended to identify and register beneficiaries in food insecurity using the information system of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (SIMAST).

However, at the time of the design of the project, the information relating to the selection of beneficiaries of the benefit was rather vague, with no geographical distribution of beneficiaries by department and municipality with the supporting method and selection criteria.

SIMAST covered barely four communes in the South-East department and the data was not up-to-date.

FAES spent more than 983 million gourdes to make MonCash transfers. Doubts persist about how this money was distributed.

According to Digicel officials contacted by AyiboPost, the company – which had not made any profit from the transfers – was not involved «either directly or indirectly» in the selection of beneficiaries.

The MonCash team had received requests totalling one billion gourdes to pay 327,000 people, according to revelations by Gerard Laborde, head of Digicel’s legal section.

«98% of these payments have been successfully completed,» Laborde told AyiboPost. «At the request of FAES, we then returned the remaining 2% of the funds that had not been disbursed,» he says.

Read also: DCPJ investigations slowed by illegal sale of Digicel and Natcom SIMs

The CSCCA audit raises other questions.

For example, according to the Court, some people selected for this program «did not even have a MonCash account», which would have «increased the transfer failure rate».

The institution says it has spent 202 million gourdes of the 203 million gourdes allocated to the subsidy of textile factory workers on short-time work because of Covid-19, at a rate of 3,750 gourdes for 53,906 workers.

Contacted by AyiboPost, Georges B. Sassine, spokesman for the Association of Industries of Haiti (ADIH) said that the factories had been paid extra by the Jouthe-Moïse government to manufacture twenty million masks.

Sassine did not disclose how much money the factories received for the manufacture of these masks or whether they have all been delivered.

For more information on this case, the spokesperson asked AyiboPost to contact the Executive Director of ADIH.

Sassine did not disclose how much money the factories received for the manufacture of these masks or whether they have all been delivered.

Reached via WhatsApp, the structure’s Executive Director, Sophia Riboul, did not provide further explanation.

«ADIH does not intend to give interviews in relation to this subsidy,» she told AyiboPost, adding that the institution has only been an «intermediary of information between the government and members of the textile sector».

Contacted twice, the former Director of FAES, Charles Ernest Chatelier, did not want to give an interview. He mentioned a health problem.

Read also: Covid-19: Challenges and chances of success of the Government’s cash transfer program

Economist Etzer Émile sees in this spending a «culture of waste and corruption» linked, according to him, to the «problem of accountability» in the country.

Several of the other institutions involved in this case have been found by the CSCCA to be guilty of paying to companies, despite an unfavourable opinion from the legal authorities, purchases denominated in dollars, which remains illegal, not to mention unauthorized and unjustified spending in a context of almost total opacity on public spending.

CorruptionState Haiti -Covid 19

Source : CSCCA – Audit Report on the Management of the Government Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, March 2020 – January 2021, Page 38.

According to criminal lawyer Frantz Gabriel Nerette, the CSCCA report will be a key document when studying the discharge file of ministers or directors general of indexed public institutions.

«Mismanagement implies poorly documented expenditure, but not necessarily misappropriation of public funds,» says the specialist. «Additional audits for each authorising officer must be carried out,» Nerette continues.

«But as with PetroCaribe, these additional audits are still delayed,» noted Me Samuel Madistin.

By Fenel Pélissier

Rony Célicourt contributed to this article.

Cover image edited by AyiboPost illustrating the suspicion of corruption cases in Covid-19 related expenses in Haiti.


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Fenel Pelissier