Only a small proportion of Haitian-owned firms have benefited from the US contracts aimed at rebuilding the country following last year’s earthquake and the number of native workers hired was also smaller than expected, it has been revealed.
An investigation by the Associated Press (AP) found that of the 1,583 US contracts given so far in Haiti totalling $267M (£166.5M), only 20 - worth £2.6M - were awarded to Haitian firms. This works out as Haitian firms winning £1 for every £62 paid out by the contracts.
It was also claimed that US contractors spent the majority of their funds on equipment and materials, meaning that only 8,000 Haitians a day were being recruited in June - much fewer than the 25,000 a day originally planned.
A number of no-bid contracts were handed out to US firms out of urgency because the United States Agency for International Development was more familiar with them. Also, concerns over corruption among Haitian companies and a lack of understanding by Haiti of US government practices have also contributed to the disparity.
But Maryland-based contractor Development Alternatives and Chemonics International of Washington, the two largest single recipients with more than £19.3M each in no-bid contracts, hit back at the investigation claiming that the combined total of Haitians employed by them and a number of other contractors had reached 25,000 a day.
In an email to AP they said that 10 months after the earthquake “priorities have evolved beyond a focus on temporary employment,” a programme that has paid Haitian workers £11.2M in wages.
Of the US states that received the most funds, Virginia was the highest with £28.2M, narrowly beating Maryland with £27.8M and the District of Columbia with £19.8M.