Last week, Haiti’s Prime Minister, Jack Guy Lafontant, resigned. Why? It boiled down to one thing: fuel prices. The people of Haiti took to the streets to protest a proposed plan to dramatically increase fuel prices—we’re talking thirty-eight percent for gasoline, forty-seven percent for diesel, and fifty-one percent for kerosene. Ouch! But why raise fuel prices in the first place? It all began earlier this year when the Haitian government signed an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—an organization made up of 189 countries that tries to keep the world’ s financial system stable—in order to gain access to $96 million in loans and grants. As part of the agreement, IMF proposed that Haiti get rid of their fuel subsidies (or money given to the fuel industry so that fuel prices remain low) to free up funds to support things like education. That’s a fine idea, but for the world’s poorest country where the average person makes less than $2.50 a day, the idea of significant increases in fuel prices just didn’t sit well with the Haitian people.
Although Mr. Lafontant has resigned, protests continue, and the question still remains: How will the government carry out their agreement with the IMF and satisfy the needs of the Haitian people? It won’t be easy, and we’ll keep you updated as things progress.
If raising fuel prices is not the answer, what do you think the Haitian government can do to help its people and satisfy the terms of their agreement with the IMF?