Monday, January 28, 2019
Office of Press Relations
Telephones: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PRESS RELEASE OF THE UNITED FRONT OF THE HAITIAN DIASPORA (UNITED FRONT)
Considering the lack of complete and credible responses by the representatives of the Haitian Government to the questions posed by the United Front and considering the significant delays to start the forum on January 25, 2019, causing logistical problems, the conference ended without a wrap up and resolutions as originally intended.
The United Front is not satisfied with the outcome of the first session of the “Friday of the Diaspora” on the exchange with the government on the collection of the $1.50 and $0.05 taxes from the diaspora to supplement the education of Haitian children.
Nevertheless, we are not discouraged. This is the first time in eight (8) years that the Haitian Government appeared in public to respond to questions regarding these taxes. Our dissatisfaction does not mean that we will “throw the baby out with the bath water.” We will continue until we win this and other battles for the well-being of the Haitian people.
We understand that this is just the beginning. The United Front will continue to advocate for its long-term priorities. Just as some of the founding members of the United Front engaged in a long protracted and difficult struggle that lasted from 2006-2012, to amend the Haitian Constitution to win Dual Citizenship; just as we have been and will continue to advocate for Haitians living in the Diaspora to exercise their rights to vote; to be represented in Parliament, and for other rights, the United Front will continue to advocate for transparency and accountability of the $1.50 and $0.05 taxes that we are paying towards the education of our children.
We will continue to:
- Ask for an audit of the PSUGO program by a reputable Haitian firm seconded by international one. (PSUGO stands for “Programme de Scolarisation Universelle Gratuite et Obligatoire.” It was PSUGO which received the $1.50 and $0.05 taxes to educate Haitian children).
- Ask MHAVE to convene educational experts from the Diaspora to help the government structure the new PROSGRAT program which replaces PSUGO. PROSGRAT stands for _______.
- Identify ways to integrate the diaspora and ensure that it is represented on the Fond National pour Education (FNE) board promulgated into law on September 17, 2017. The MHAVE sits on this board with other ministers.
The United Front has always seen this struggle as a long process and, for many of us, this is part of our life’s work. Since November 2016, the United Front at its formal inception in November 2016, demanded as one of its top priorities, a complete accounting of the tax money the government collects from the Diaspora and a report on what it is currently doing and has been done with the money (see link of letters of demand).
The current Minister of the Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad (MHAVE), Marnatha Irene Ternier, responded by calling on the United Front to help organize the first of a series of public forum on the $1.50 and $0.05 tax (see link to MHAVE ‘s Letter). This forum took place in the context of MHAVE’s new initiative entitled “Friday of the Diaspora” to hear the Diaspora issues on a monthly basis. The United Front submitted its demands via a list of exhaustive questions (see link of questions) and the Government produced experts from the BRH, the Conseil National of Telecommunication (CONATEL), the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the Ministry of Education to respond.
The United Front organized an extensive outreach via social media and radio. We published our position which included a criticism that the imposition of this tax on the Diaspora without consultation as Taxation without Representation.
The United Front responded and helped organize this forum on the premises of the Bank of the Republic of Haiti (BRH) which collects the money. At the forum which took place on January 25, 2019, the United Front proceeded to demand a report on the amount of tax collected and an audit report. BRH reported that it allegedly collected $120,000,000.00 and CONATEL reported that it allegedly collected $140,000,000.00. At this time, neither of these agencies, collecting the money, agreed to do a public audit report in the future or to share such, if any exists. We demand such audits.
Many of the questions focused on the department of Education because, after all, the taxes are being levied to fund education. We, along with members of the Diaspora present and those participating via the Internet, questioned the representative repeatedly as to what specifically has been done with the money being collected since 2011 in the realm of education and how the law of the National Fund for Education (FNE) govern the expenditure of the fund collected and to be collected in the future.
Many of the questions from the in-person and online audience focused on the use of the monies. Judge Lionel as well as the audience wanted more specificity on the PSUGO, which was recently changed into program at the ministry of education named “PROSGRAT”.
WHO AND WHAT IS THE UNITED FRONT OF THE HAITIAN DIASPORA?
The United Front is a coalition of various organizations and individuals whose mission is to mobilize the Haitian Diaspora, our children, our friends and allies to work with willing partners in Haiti to help advance its development. Many members have been engaged in work to protect, increase and exercise our rights as Haitians through constitutional/legislative changes such rights as Dual Citizenship, Absentee Voting, Representation in Parliament etc. The United Front also works on other ways to help strengthen Haiti to mitigate damages due to disaster; to defend the rule of law in the interest of Justice, to be accountable and to be transparent. It is the pursuit of fairness, transparency and justice that led us to hold a forum on Friday, January 25, 2019 to demand accountability from the Haitian government as to their authority to tax the Diaspora $1.50 on each transfer and $0.05 per minute on its telephone calls since 2011 albeit for a noble cause, to supplement educational funding for Haitian children.