Marjorie’s story may help us understand clearly the reasons the majority of Haiti’s young professional and semi-professional population is going into bankruptcy.  

Marjorie is a young 30-year-old professional working in a private sector enterprise as a supervisor since June 1, 2017 for a monthly salary of 45,000.00 Gourdes which at that time was worth US $725.00 representing an annual salary of 540,000.00 Gourdes or US $ 8,700.00.

Like most young women and men, she lives in a rented house with her family.  As a single mother and head of household and of six, Marjorie is responsible for the annual lease of US $4,000.00 or 248,000.00 Gourdes  which is due on June 18th of every year. Other expenses include fuel for the generator,  the monthly water truck, drinking water, the maid, tuition and transportation for her 2 young children, propane and charcoal for cooking, internet service and cable television among others.                

On June 18, 2018 Marjorie’s net monthly salary which was still 45,000.00 Gourdes was then worth US $677.20. After paying the US $ 4,000.00 annual lease on the house (265,800.00 Gourdes at a rate of 66.45 Gourdes for 1.00 US Dollar) she still had 291,000.00 Gourdes left over for the other expenses.

Now let’s fast forward to June 18, 2019. Marjorie’s net monthly salary is still 45,000.00 Gourdes which is now worth US $ 484.39. The June 18, 2019 lease of US $ 4,000.00 US is now 371,600.00 Gourdes at a rate of 92.90 Gds for 1.00 US Dollar. She now has 168,000.00 Gourdes left for other expenses, 123,000.00 Gdes down from the previous year.

On this June 18, 2020 Marjorie’s net monthly salary  of 45,000.00 Gourdes is now worth a measly US $ 391.30. For the June 18, 2020 her lease on the house of US $ 4,000.00 US costs her 460,000.00 Gdes at the current rate of 115.00 Gdes for 1.00 US Dollars. This means that Marjorie will be left only with 80,000.00 Gourdes for the other bills.

You will notice that same monthly salary of 45,000.00 Gds or US $725.00 back in 2017 has now dropped to  US $ 391.00.

It’s worth noting that although the Haitian gourde has gone into a free fall versus the US dollar, the landlord never reduced the annual payment on the house, the bills have remained constant while Marjorie never got a raise from her job.

Marjorie’s bankruptcy story compels us to take a hard look at where we are today and where we will be tomorrow if this trend continues.

Marjorie’s salary went from US $8,700.00 in 2017 to US $ 4,695.60 in just three years because of a devaluating Haitian currency versus its American counterpart. It is time to put an end to this economic hemorrhage which risks driving the country’s middle class into ruin.

Patrick Alexis

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