THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
President Clinton today welcomed passage by the Haitian Parliament of two key pieces of economic reform legislation, calling the accomplishment "a tribute to President Preval's leadership and a key step on the road to economic growth and recovery."
The Haitian Senate on September 25 passed a comprehensive civil service reform bill and on September 26 passed a modernization bill which authorized the government to restructure inefficient state enterprises and bring in the private sector. Both these bills had been approved previously by the Haitian Chamber of Deputies, and will go now to President Preval for signature. The President cited the extended Parliamentary debate over this legislation as evidence that democracy is taking root in Haiti, and hailed the final approval as "an important step in Haiti?s long journey from dictatorship to democracy."
In passing these two bills, the Haitian Parliament cleared the way for a multi-donor economic recovery program that totals over $170 million, including assistance from the EU, Canada, and others, and loans from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank.
During their March 21 meeting in the Oval Office, the President told President Preval that the United States would join in supporting this international effort if the government of Haiti met the reform conditions of the IMF. Haiti has now done so. Accordingly, the U.S. government is disbursing the first $4.6 million of a $19.6 million budget package in support of the IMF program. We are working with Congress to release the remaining $15 million.
Little more than two years ago, Haitians were taking to boats by the thousands. Today, with the support of the United States and many of our allies, Haitians are laboring to build a democracy and reform their economy. For the United States, this assistance is a prudent investment in the democratic stability of a nearby neighbor and the economic development of a region on our doorstep.
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