Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Willard F. Barber of the Division of the American Republics
|Participants:||President-elect Lescot of Haiti;|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs Dennis;|
M. Lescot opened the meeting by discussing briefly some of the points in a memorandum, copy of which is attached.29 Mr. Finley [Page 339] observed that there appeared to be a difference between M. Lescot’s memorandum and the earlier “Bases of Discussion” regarding the preparation and control of the budget. A general conversation ensued during which President Lescot stated that the Haitian government could not be placed in the position of losing its sovereignty by subjecting itself to a veto over budget matters by the Directors of the National Bank. Mr. Barber pointed out that there did not appear to be any loss of sovereignty, as the Bank was a part of the government of Haiti and the question of arranging the budget would be a matter of cooperation and coordination of efforts of one branch of the government, that is, the Ministry of Finance, and another branch, namely, the National Bank.
Mr. Collado thought that it might be possible to establish an arrangement whereby the chief responsibility for the revenue side of the budget would be placed upon the Bank and the chief responsibility for the expenditure side of the budget would be placed upon the Finance Minister. Of course it would be necessary for the two to agree upon a final project of a law which would go through the usual procedure and would be submitted to the legislature. Mr. Finley referred to the language appearing in Article 13 of the Accord of 1933 as describing the function of the Bank in preparing the estimates for the budget. M. Lescot felt that the language of that article approximated his idea of the new setup closer than the outlined point five of the bases of discussion.
Mr. Bonsal suggested that a substitute for point five (a) be found. Mr. Collado left the room to dictate the new formula, copy of which is attached,30 which was then the subject of further discussions. It was suggested that throughout the new formula the phrase “the Minister of Finance” might be substituted for the phrase “Government of Haiti” in order to bear out the thought that an agreement regarding budget matters was being reached within the Haitian government. After a further exchange of views, Mr. Bonsal intimated that details could be arranged later after an agreement had been reached in principle regarding the main point at issue.
M. Dennis thought that it would be preferable to have the Minister of Finance named as the official responsible for the transmission of the funds for the service of the bonds rather than the Board of Directors of the National Bank. This change would be made, for example, in point six of the “Bases for Discussion”.
After considerable further discussion it was agreed that:
- The Bank would estimate the global expenditures, the expenditures for each department and the revenues.
- The salaries of the Haitian members of the Board of Directors [Page 340] of the Bank would be fixed by the Haitian government and the salaries of the American members would be arranged by an accord between the two governments.
- The government of Haiti would pay the full 6% interest on its bonds next year.
M. Lescot had no further objection to any of the other points of “Bases of Discussion”.
Mr. Collado pointed out that it was expected that the American members of the board of directors of the Bank would also perform other functions, such as manager of the commercial division, and that each American director would be a full time official of the Bank.
Mr. Finley passed around copies of the draft of a press release which would summarize the agreement in principle which had been reached regarding the National Bank, the abolition of the Office of the Fiscal Representative, et cetera. A few minor changes in phraseology were suggested, but no final decision was taken as to when the press statement would be issued.
Mr. Collado then explained that the officials of the Export-Import Bank, and specifically Secretary of Commerce Jones, were currently studying the proposed Export-Import Bank credit and that he hoped a decision would be reached in order to inform President-elect Lescot when he returned to the Department tomorrow morning. Another press release would be prepared on this subject giving in general outline (if the Bank approves) the agricultural development plan prepared by Messrs. Bressman and Fennell and additional extension of credits for the J. G. White program. It was agreed to meet again on Wednesday morning.