The global rise in fuel prices comes at the worst time for the Haitian authorities: the increase in pump prices they ordered in December has still not been digested by the population.

In Haiti, this strategic market is regulated by the State: to buy social peace, successive governments generally avoid touching this sensitive file.

Before that of December, the previous rise in fuel prices dated back to May 2017.

For six months, the liters of gasoline and diesel are respectively paid 56 cents and 78 cents by the consumer.

– Unsustainable fuel subsidy –

It is up to the authorities to reimburse the difference to the oil companies that import and sell in Haiti, a note that has become too steep with the outbreak caused by the conflict in Ukraine.

“This year, these fuel subsidies have increased by more than 200%: we are around a cost of 18 billion gourdes”, or more than 153 million euros, said economist Kesner Pharel.

This sum, which represents twice the funds allocated to the Ministry of Health, does nothing to reduce the misery of the 60% of Haitians living below the poverty line.

“This does not help socially because it is a generalized subsidy: we do not target the most disadvantaged people”, analyzes Mr. Pharel.

“In December, a mechanism had been mentioned to support the public transport sector alone, but so far it has not been done because of the lack of efficiency of the state,” he laments. he.

And as the island country imports five times more food than it exports, the increase in maritime transport costs aggravates inflation, which had already crossed the 25% mark at the start of the year.

“We are going to suffer from imported inflation because our main trading partners, the United States and the Dominican Republic, now also have strong inflation: at home, we could reach 30% this year”, warns Kesner Pharel.

The specter of the 2008 food riots looms over Haiti as wheat prices also soar due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, the two leading grain producing countries.

– 30% more expensive flour –

“This is beginning to affect all the production of industrial goods derived from wheat in Haiti, such as flour or pasta, which have already experienced, since the war, more than 30% increase”, underlines the economist Etzer Emile who recalls that ‘Haiti imports twice as much rice, wheat and maize as it produces locally.

While Haitian households devote 60% of their income to food, according to the national statistics institute, food insecurity already affected 4.5 million inhabitants of the country, before the outbreak of war in Europe.

“This morning for breakfast, the children asked for bread but we can’t buy it: even if they don’t like it too much, we replace it with cassava pancakes”, says Michèle, who lives in Port-au- Prince with his mother, sister and three nephews.

“We can no longer buy as much rice as before. Besides, we don’t have any more and we are thinking about buying some or not”, confesses the young woman.

These economic challenges come as the gangs, who have gained territory, siphon off the population via the ransoms they demand during daily kidnappings, committed mainly in the capital.

– Business flight in the Dominican Republic-

Faced with the racketeering they have imposed on industries, the armed gangs constitute yet another obstacle to the recovery of the Haitian economy, in recession since 2019 and which could grow by only 0.3% this year, according to optimistic forecasts by the government.

“More and more companies in difficult areas, of great violence, are closing shop, leaving more people unemployed”, notes Etzer Emile.

This economic plunge in Haiti is already greatly benefiting the neighboring country.

“Dozens and dozens of Haitian entrepreneurs have already migrated to the Dominican Republic and here, in Haiti, they only keep their boxes afloat”, notes with spite Grégory Brandt, president of the Franco-Haitian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. .

“Over the 2021-2022 fiscal year, Haitians have thus invested $250 million in the Dominican Republic,” laments the businessman.