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Can a New "Sin Tax" Save Haiti's Schools?

A proposed 2% tax on booze and cigarettes would bring in revenue for Haiti's suffering education system.

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One of many schools needing to be rebuilt.
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By Chrisanne Grise

10/09/12

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Haiti’s government is hoping to raise $100 million for education by putting an additional tax on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe announced that the new 2% "sin tax" would amass enough money to build 200 schools and refurbish 2,000 more. In addition, the money is needed for training and pay raises for thousands of teachers. "In Haiti, 70% of the teachers have not completed sixth grade," says Lamothe. "We need to train the teachers, and that is a $23 million program.” The proceeds raised by the tax would go into a government fund that already has accrued nearly $34 million in taxes on international phone calls and money transfers. However, the new sin tax must be approved by Parliament before it can go into effect. Lamothe hopes that efforts to improve and rebuild the educational system would boost enrollment in schools; Haiti has about 4.5 million school-age children and only about half of them were attending school before the 2010 earthquake that destroyed and damaged thousands of classrooms.

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