(MENAFN - Caribbean News Now) By Melanius Alphonse
Caribbean News Now associate managing editor
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haitian President Jovenel Moise on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of Jean Michel Lapin, who has served as acting prime minister since March 21, following the removal from office after a mere six months of the government of Jean Henry Céant.
Lapin is Haiti's third since February 2017 to direct the affairs of 11 million residents and a country facing a record $450 million deficit this year.
Government corruption, dysfunction, lawbreaking and contempt for the rule of law have been mainstays of the dismissal of previous governments. This has been accompanied by violent street protests and security concerns, prompting a level four travel warning from the US State Department.
Lapin will be required to form a new government with the approval of both chambers of parliament, utilising his extended years of service in public administration and service to the last four Haitian presidents as a courier in the public administration and the former culture and communications minister.
The capacity to tackle economic challenges and manoeuvre within a failed system to create an institution for economic growth and investment to gain confidence in Haiti and the international community is of utmost importance.
Lapin's political programme faces challenges of US$290 million deficit, and a national budget estimated at US$1.8 billion. Lack of job creation has unemployment at 50 percent; the rising cost of living has inflation at 17 percent, while 60 percent of the population is living under the poverty line, compound the country's economic problems.
In the forefront of Lapin's social and economic policy is the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pre-requisite for the disbursement of the first tranche of a US$229 million loan to Haiti.
Calls for Moise to resign have not subsided amid an investigation into the alleged misuse and embezzlement of funds from the PetroCaribe Venezuela oil program, while questions have been raised about government contracts and issues of accountability and transparency when the country is facing renewed blackouts and unable to pay fuel suppliers.
On the immediate horizon are further concerns to national security when the UN stabilization mission comes to an end. Local and legislative elections are also due by October.
Meanwhile, Moise awaits President Donald Trump's promise that a high-level delegation from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a US government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets, would visit their nations in the next 90 days, following the Mar-a-Lago meeting of select regional heads of government to reinforce support for the US position on Venezuela.