Understanding the 1989 Decree that binds Nonprofit Organizations in Haiti

Understanding the 1989 Decree that binds Nonprofit Organizations in Haiti

How are nonprofits recognized in Haiti? To understand the decree which was written September 14, 1989 for nonprofit organizations, we must dissect the statute. To begin, in 1989 Haiti was under a  Human Rights Watch and Prosper Avril took office. I strongly believe that the decree needs to be reformed due to the fact that this sector has evolved over the past twenty-eight years. Most recently, 257 nonprofits were given notice to comply with the Haitian government thanks to Article 32 or risk being banned from operating in Haiti.

We begin by exploring the document found on MPCE’s website. We must also have an understanding of certain articles found in the Haitian Constitution such as Article 8, 53, 56, 78, 136, and 246.

I already predict the anger while embarking on this decree. Again, it has been twenty-eight years since this decree was written for non-governmental organizations. We cannot exclude the fact that this sector consists of various NEEDS from alleviating poverty and child malnutrition to providing education and clean water. The list goes on. This decree excludes the fact that Haiti is still considered as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Natural disasters are their biggest problems apart from government corruption, insecurity, unemployment, and other factors. I find it quite ignorant of MPCE to not modify this decree.

Decree Overview

Problematic/Need for Reform

Article 8; Section B

Why is this section a requirement? It puzzles me that in order for a nonprofit to register in Haiti, they would need the “approval” of other nonprofits.

Article 11

The statutes of an organization seeking recognition as NGOs must obligatorily contain the following information:

  • The duration of the organization, and the causes of dissolution.

The last point of Article 11 confuses me. I asked myself why must I let the government know when the organization will no longer be active? Obviously time is not in favor of this decree; the circumstances of the NEED in Haiti has changed and has increased, which means that an initiative with a duration of three months will not be successful because of unpredictable factors. Lack of funds will also set a project back. Nevertheless, let’s continue.

Problematic/Need for Reform

In the United States, nonprofits have Form 1023 and Form 990; the difference is that the government does not insert itself in the organization as a dictator. Form 1023 asks for a separate document to showcase your past, present and future activities; however, it does not dictate what your organization should focus on. The reason both Article 16 and 18 are terrible is because a government should not be taking the role of a board of director nor stakeholder. The management of a nonprofit internally as well as externally are influenced by the regulations set before them; whereas they need to comply to tax regulations by keeping proper records (bookkeeping); however, Haiti does not recognize modern software like QuickBooks, Quicken, Microsoft Dynamics GP to name a few. This serious detriment sets nonprofits back a decades.

Problematic/Need for Reform

Article 28

  • Convey has MPCE via the County Council every year between 15 May and 31 August; the program and the investment budget for the next fiscal year.
  • Keep records.
  • Notify the MPCE of any interruption in the execution of programs of activities.

Again, the government is not a board member nor is it a stakeholder. A nonprofit is of course obligated to share financial statements to the public and government. Keeping records is easy and…I will state this again…modern technology has not reached Haiti nor the nonprofit sector. To notify the MPCE of any interruption in the execution of initiatives compares to notifying your donors/grantmakers of your actives when the Haitian government does not wear any of those hats. That is, of course, if you received funding through them to execute your project.

Problematic/Need for Reform

To lose your nonprofit status is the result of the negative externalities your organization had in your community as well as not complying with the regulations in Haiti. This should not result on your ASSETS like land, equipment you purchased with your personal funds, only to be taken from you; however, if proven that the ASSETS were obtained through mismanagement of funds (unauthorized cars, equipment,etc.) collected from third parties, Article 31 is unclear as far as how will the government liquidate your assets. Will they keep it or will they share it with other nonprofits? For Article 33, is Haiti’s criminal justice database sufficient to keep a skilled employee from working for your organization? You can request a background check in the states for up to 5-10 years of any criminal activities; however, skills and criminal background do not benefit an employer or the government. To exclude an individual from ever working in a sector where their SKILLS bring more change is something that needs to be changed. An employer can request a criminal/civil record of an employee, but what if the person was jailed for petty crime?  If the crime was heinous like murder orsex trafficking, then those individuals would still be in jail, correct?

Problematic/Need for Reform

Article 35

  • All donations in kind and cash for an organization recognized by any institution, whether an agency for external cooperation bilateral or multilateral, will be confiscated by the Haitian State to be distributed to Charityworks.

Regarding Article 35, this is a level of disrespect, distrust, and stupidity. A nonprofit is an entity that cannot finance an initiative on their own and that is why they solicit for funds, apply for grants, crowdfund, seek angel investors, as well as other avenues; meaning they have worked their asses off to obtain funds for the work. I can see why most nonprofit rather register as a 501c3 in the states so they can determine how best to use the funds obtained through the available sources. Most individuals will say it is much easier to create a nonprofit in Haiti than to open a business which is true if the person is not going through the proper channels to legalized themselves. However, to open a nonprofit organization is a challenge when the definition and the nature of a NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION is treated as GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION because of this decree.

Chapters 7 and 8 contain basic information that is universal as far as name change of organization and that you are bound by the 1989 decree once you have been recognized as a nonprofit organization.

Do you believe that Haiti need to reform their policy for nonprofit organizations? Who should be the ones invited to make propositions? Do the current authorities on MPCE comprehend the definitions of nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations? Should MPCE track nonprofits when they have not done a great job?


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