The Old Shoes Of Political Activism, Ctd


Annie Lowrey counters David Roodman:

I think Roodman underplays the impact of debt payments on Haitian government spending. Sure, aid and remittances will dwarf debt payments next year. But why should the country have to worry about them at all -- ever, even 10 years from now, when Haiti will likely be stable and poor?

I made another chart from data from Haiti's budget. (The Port-au-Prince government, it turns out, posts its budget documents online.) Last year, it shows, Haiti spent around $37 million servicing its debt. (I looked up the numbers in Haitian Gourdes, and performed a current-day currency conversion -- note that the currency has cratered recently.) That's more than the government spent, say, on agriculture -- despite the fact that a massive proportion of Haitians are subsistence farmers. It's more than it spent on its ministry of tourism, despite the fact that tourists once posed the best way for Haiti to bolster its economy in the short term. Had Haiti not had to repay external debt, it could have boosted its education budget by nearly a third.