November 11, 2009 / 11:58 PM / 9 years ago

Haiti ready for private investment, new PM says

* New prime minister sworn in, says jobs are top goal

* Haiti can deliver transparency, accountability, he says

By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Economist Jean-Max Bellerive was sworn in as Haiti’s prime minister on Wednesday and said he would work to convince donors that the country was ready for private investment to create jobs.

Donor nations pledged in April to provide $324 million over two years to help rebuild the struggling Caribbean state, the poorest in the Americas and one of the most unstable, but they have been slow to deliver the money.

Bellerive told reporters he hoped to persuade donors “that Haiti has changed, that Haiti is ready to open itself to private investment, that Haiti is ready to give reports on its accountability, on transparency.”

He replaces Michele Pierre-Louis, who was fired by the Senate on Oct. 30 amid criticism that she failed to improve Haiti’s economy and did not do enough to rebuild after a series of devastating hurricanes and storms in 2008.

At the swearing-in ceremony at the National Palace, Bellerive said creating jobs was “an absolute priority.”

“Haiti will continue to work with all the partners and all the people who believe in stability and who believe the only way we are going to change Haiti is through private investment and through creating jobs in Haiti,” he told journalists afterward.

Haiti has a long history of violence and instability but has recently enjoyed a period of relative calm, thanks in part to the continued presence of U.N. peacekeepers.

Bellerive’s approach won praise from the newly formed Haitian Economic Development Foundation.

“Our business community is pleased to see that Mr. Bellerive’s focus will be to continue furthering the pro-business direction encouraged by President Rene Preval,” said the group’s president, Youri Mevs.

“Humanitarian assistance to our country is indeed crucial, but expansion of the business sector in order to create jobs is the long-term solution that will most impact the future of our people,” he added.

Bellerive previously served as Preval’s planning and external cooperation minister and has held positions in governments under at least six different prime ministers over the past two decades. (Writing by Jane Sutton; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Eric Beech)

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