PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti's government wants to raise $100 million for a special education fund by putting additional taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling, the Caribbean nation's prime minister said Monday.
In a meeting with The Miami Herald's editorial board, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said the new sin tax would require approval from Parliament. He said the money collected would help build 200 schools, refurbish 2,000 more and train and boost pay for thousands of teachers from primary schools to universities.
The proceeds would go into a government fund that already has gotten almost $34 million with taxes on international phone calls and money transfers, the latter making up about a quarter of Haiti's GDP. A board of directors oversees the fund.
The effort seeks to boost enrollment. Haiti has about 4.5 million school-age children but only about half were attending school before the 2010 earthquake destroyed or damaged thousands of classrooms.
The school year began last week amid a fresh wave of isolated protests in the countryside and capital. Some demonstrators have complained that the government hasn't covered school tuition despite its claims to the contrary, along with what protesters say is a higher cost of living.
An adviser to Lamothe, Salim Succar, confirmed the prime minister's statement.