O’Brian and Digicel Never far from Controversy – Haiti, Digicel National Fund for Education smells fishy
MIAMI, USA (defend.ht) – President Michel Martelly told the Haitian Diaspora community in Miami that the National Fund for Education, established in May 2011, had accumulated $16 million [US] and not a penny of it had been touched, although in January of 2012, Digicel CEO Denis O’Brien said the fund had collected $20 million [US], and in October 2011, the then-Minister of Education said the fund had $28 million [US].
The Miami Herald reported about Michel Martelly’s visit to Miami Monday December 10 and made this citing:
Martelly said $16 million has been raised since the tax was introduced in May 2011, and “we haven’t touched one penny of it.”
But on January 26, 2012, Digicel CEO Denis O’Brien was asked at his radio station NewsTalk about the National Fund for Education. O’Brien said:
“… just before the inauguration of President Martelly he brought the mobile phone operators together and said we want to bring a new tax on in-bound calls so that American people ringing-in or European people ringing-in Haiti there will be a 5 cents tax collected by the operators in Haiti and we agreed immediately.”
“This money now is in the Central Bank and it’s part of the money being used to send children back to school for the first time… it’s raised probably now at this stage, about $20 million.”
Take note, that Denis O’Brien also said at this interview in January that the tax had initially slowed down the volume of calls but now the volume of calls were back to where they were before the tax.
Two weeks before this interview, Digicel Haiti sent out a press note on the FNE stating that its contribution to the fund as of the end of December 2011 was $13 million [US]. Other mobile carriers at the time also made contributions and money was also being collected on money transfers for the FNE, the other contributions totaled about $10 million [US] in January 2012.
Further raising questions was an October 2011 declaration by President Martelly’s Counselor on Education Gaston Mercier who reported that $28 million [US] had been collected.
Defend Haiti projects that the National Fund for Education should have $136 million [US]. DH is using the figure of $8.5 million [US] per month given at the launch of the FNE that was attended by Digicel Haiti, NatCom and Voila CEOs, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) representative Bashire Lamine, and International Monetary Fund representative in Haiti, Bouleau Loko.
The National Fund for Education still to this day is illegal in Haiti. It is an unlawful tax that was imparted without the authorization of Parliament.
The administration says none of the FNE money is being used to fund education, in fact, they say none has been used at all while continuing to promote it as the reason for the free education program in Haiti which, in fact, existed years before Martelly began running for office.
Digicel, which has a public perception that it financed the campaign of Michel Martelly, has a heavy hand in the National Fund for Education that is illegal in Haiti. It is believed by many that the fall of Digicel’s main competitor, Voila, was due to the implementation of the tax.
Denis O’Brien, Digicel’s CEO, has been the subject of multiple corruption and bribery scandals in other countries in the past.
01.27.2012: Michel Martelly and Denis O’Brien in cahoots.
Tomorrow: O’Brian and Digicel Never far from Controversy – A Gate for Whom