Raising funds, forgiving debts for Haiti

Residents rush during a water distribution near a makeshift camp at the Champs de Mars square in Port au Prince, Haiti -- January 22, 2010

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: A couple of weeks after the initial earthquake in Haiti, we're hearing how much it might cost to fix the infrastructure there. International groups are meeting today in Montreal to talk about raising funds. Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman is with us live to talk about it. Good morning, Mitchell.

Mitchell Hartman: Good morning, Steve.

Chiotakis: So who's up in Quebec and what are they looking to raise?

Hartman: Well all the major players will be there -- Haiti's prime minister, Hillary Clinton, people from the U.N. and the IMF. The U.S. has already pledged $100 million, the Canadians $135 million, Japan, Norway, South Korea, all in the tens of millions.

Chiotakis: Sounds like a lot of money on the table, Mitchell -- is this immediate help?

Hartman: Well no -- this is actually a one-day ministers' meeting to plan the serious gathering of international donors in March. They're going to try to raise hundreds of millions that it's likely to cost to rebuild Haiti's infrastructure. You might say just build it, since it wasn't in great shape to begin with. Private nongovernmental aid groups like Oxfam will also be talking in Montreal to the ministers. They're urging cancellation of Haiti's $900 million in foreign debt.

Chiotakis: And is there any problem with forgiving that debt, Mitchell?

Hartman: Well, Haiti's already gotten a billion in debt relief. The IMF and World Bank basically wrote that off last year. And a lot of donor countries and development experts are saying if the reconstruction effort isn't done right, if it doesn't involve the poor and farmers, it won't actually matter much whether Haiti's debt is cancelled or not, because that money is just going to get frittered away in corruption and ill-conceived projects.

Chiotakis: All right, Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman, live with us. Mitchell, thanks.

Hartman: You're welcome.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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