Prime Minister: Haiti Committed To Transparency

Countries around the world are pledging aid to Haiti, but some are concerned that the post-earthquake chaos and longstanding problems with corruption will make it hard for the government to be effective. Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive says Haiti will have to prove it is making progress.

International organizations and governments from around the world have pledged nearly $5 billion in short-term aid to Haiti, as the shattered nation tries to recover from a massive earthquake.

The pledges — which exceeded expectations — came Wednesday at an international donors' conference at the United Nations. Many countries came to the conference with concerns that the Haitian government might have a difficult time mounting an effective reconstruction program, because of post-earthquake chaos and longstanding problems with corruption.

But Haiti's prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, says the country is committed to transparency.

"I'm not going to hide the fact that we have a credibility problem," he tells NPR's Michele Norris. "All the poor countries, all what they call the fragile countries, they have a problem of credibility."

Bellerive, who is co-chairing the commission overseeing the aid money with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, says Haiti has to prove that it has left the days of dictatorships behind it.

"We have a government that wants to give the service that the population is entitled to," he says. "[We] have to prove to all the people we are working with that we have transparency ... that we are working towards progress, really, and that everybody [understands] what we are going to do in the short- [and] mid-term, and that we are putting in place a system for accountability and evaluation.

"So the key word is transparency, and we are willing to do that."

Now, Bellerive says, Haiti must balance its long-term needs against the very urgent short-term problems it faces.

"We have to take those people out of some very, very dangerous zones where they settled their tents. They could be flooded. As you know, we have a cyclonic season starting in less than two months, and we have to move those people," he says. "But generally, more globally, we have to prepare [for] the next flooding and the next cyclonic season. That also is a priority."

Still, he says, most of the victims of the earthquake are still on the streets, and "they are still in need of a lot of support." Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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