PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – A controversial decree essentially selling ownership of Haiti’s island of La Gonâve to foreign interests was placed on hold by the Council of Ministers on Thursday.
The decree was issued by former President Michel Martelly on January 7, 2016, a month before he would be forced to leave office without a successor. It created The Gonâve Island Financial Center but being that it consisted of an agreement giving ownership of Haitian territory to foreigners, it required ratification from Parliament which did not exist at the time.
On Friday, the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (MEF) used as pretext, the threat of the financial isolation of Haiti, due to its money laundering and terrorism financing laws falling short of new standards, as cause to suspend activities relating to the establishment of the Financial Center.
Yves Romain Bastien, the Minister of Economy and Finance, whose ministry would supervise the center issued a notice to:
…inform all those interested in the subject in particular that, by decision of the Council of Ministers, held on August 30 that the following actions were taken:
- Suspension of all activities that should lead to the formal establishment of the said Center ;
- Submission to Parliament of a bill relating the decree of 9 December 2015;
- Decree relating the appointment of the Director General of the Centre
All measures taken or authorizations in connection with the establishment of the Centre are therefore null and void.
 The decree to establish the Gonave Island Financial Center, Article 4 reads, “To achieve its mission, the Center may acquire all property, movable and immovable; execute all works or major works that it needs and act as the owner… pledge, give as security, mortgage, give as a guarantee its properties with the permission of the Board of Directors. “And,” on the territory available to the Center, it will be free to subdivide or parcel out, grant farming and rental rights to its residents, receive dues and provide for its needs…” according to Article 6. “Companies or other entities established by the Center may be fully owned by persons or entities who are not nationals or residents of Haiti,” declares Article 56.