Haiti: phone company privatized —to Vietnamese

On April 29 the Vietnamese telecommunications company Viettel formally acquired 60% of the shares in Haiti’s state-owned phone company, Télécommunications d’Haiti (Haiti Téléco). Central Bank president Charles Castel said the company, which escaped the privatization process that led to the sell-off of several state enterprises in the 1990s, was constantly in the red and required monthly subsidies from the government. According to Téléco director Michel Presumé, the company had “more than 5,000 employees who weren’t doing anything.” “A lot of them spent more time in the radio stations than in their places of employment,” he added, presumably referring to workers giving interviews about their opposition to the company’s privatization.

Viettel representative Nguyen Khac Chung said the Vietnamese company already operates in several countries, including Cambodia and Laos. The Haitian government will continue to own 40% of the shares in Téléco, which will now be known as Natcom. (Radio Métropole, April 30)

The only result of the sale will be the enrichment of Viettel, Haitian economist Camille Chalmers, executive secretary of the Haitian Platform Advocating an Alternative Development (PAPDA), said on May 6. He noted that Téléco was very profitable as recently as the early 1990s, adding that privatization programs hadn’t benefited the general population in countries like Bolivia and Venezuela, which were now doing the opposite—nationalizing private companies. (AHP, May 6)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 9.

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Haiti Téléco