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UN Chief, Former President Clinton Urge Haiti to Create Better Investment Environment


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former U.S. President Bill Clinton urged Haiti's government to do more to create jobs and implement the social and economic reforms necessary to attract investment to one of the world's poorest nations. The two men concluded a 24-hour visit to the Caribbean nation on Tuesday.

Mr. Ban said that with the help of the U.N. peacekeeping mission that has been in Haiti since 2004, the country has restored peace and stability. But, he said, more still needs to be done. "They need to strengthen the capacity of the Haitian national police; they should improve the correctional facilities; they should have better government structures, which can function better and they should do more on social-economic development," he said.

But what Haiti really needs, he said, is jobs.

Unemployment is rampant and 80 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day - making it the 14th poorest country in the world and the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.

Mr. Ban and former President Clinton highlighted the industrial potential of Haiti, which sits on the doorstep of one of the world's largest markets - the United States - during a visit to a t-shirt factory.

Mr. Clinton said the owner told him he employs 3,000 workers, but that he could increase that to 10,000, if the price of energy were cheaper. Mr. Clinton said Haiti's industrialization could be sped up through solar and wind energy, as well energy generated from garbage.

"I still think we could close all the landfills and collect the trash that is laying around in Port-au-Prince after the hurricanes, and regular waste -- like the clippings off t-shirts -- and probably generate a whole lot more energy and dramatically lower the cost of power," he said.

Later, he told a press conference that he would like to see Haiti's government create more jobs by lowering the cost of doing business, including the cost of rent.

Mr. Clinton also said the government should take "aggressive steps" to reduce the chance of damage from storms. Haiti is still recovering from four hurricanes last year that killed 800 people and caused an estimated billion dollars in damage.

The former president also urged Haiti to revive its tourism industry, saying that it is a unique country that boasts a beautiful coastline and impressive mountains.

Next month, international donors will meet in Washington to raise money for Haiti. The country is facing severe budget shortfalls, in addition to its other needs.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Clinton said they hoped their visit and their commitment to Haiti would encourage participants at next month's conference that Haiti can be an economic and development success story.

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