IMF defends Haiti fuel price hikes that sparked unrest

A painted bus filled with passengers makes its way along the street on the second day of a nationwide, general strike in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, early

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The International Monetary Fund stands by its proposal for fuel-price hikes in Haiti that sparked four days of unrest in the impoverished country.

An IMF spokesman in Washington says Haiti's government agreed to eliminate fuel subsidies as part of a broader agreement that would have strengthened its finances and opened it to more support from IMF member nations.

Spokesman Gerry Rice says that fuel subsidies disproportionately benefit the well-off and deprive the government of revenue it could otherwise use for other programs.

He said at a news conference Thursday the Haitian government should gradually phase out the subsidies.

The government announced July 6 that price increases of up to 50 percent would take effect the next day. That set off protests and looting that led to several deaths.