Monday, March 12, 2007
Haitians living abroad propped up the economy of their impoverished Caribbean homeland by sending more than $1.65 billion in cash to relatives last year. This is according to a report from the Inter-American Development Bank. That sum represented twice Haiti's national budget and 30 percent of its gross domestic product, said Jean Geneus, Haiti's minister in charge of Haitians living abroad. Manager of the IDB's Multilateral Investment Fund Donald Terry said Remittances are the most important economic factor in Haiti. Terry said an estimated $400 million in food and other gifts were also sent home by Haitians living abroad, bringing the total remittances to more than $2 billion. Haiti, a former French colony trying to establish democracy after decades of violence, dictatorship and military rule, is the poorest country in the Americas. Most of its 8 million people scrape by on less than $2 a day.