Port-au-Prince (AFP) - Haiti's economy expanded by only 1.4 percent this year, according to official figures released Wednesday, as the impoverished country's electoral crisis is discouraging investment, with prospects for 2017 even more dismal.
The country has been wracked by political instability since results of last year's first round presidential election were scrapped, which forced former president Michel Martelly to step down in February without a successor in place.
Parliament elected then-Senate president Jocelerme Privert to serve as the country's provisional president for a three-month term.
But Privert remains in office because the electoral authorities have yet to announce the final results of a new first-round vote in November seemingly won by ruling party candidate Jovenel Moise.
The 1.4 percent growth figure fell far short of the 3.6 percent growth the government had set as a target at the start of the fiscal year that ended in September. But the fiscal year began before the electoral drama ramped up.
"We have a government that is not constitutional, so local and international private investors aren't investing significantly," said Haitian economist Kesner Pharel, who pointed to growth of six percent across the border in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and also held an election this year.
The uncertainty has slowed economic activity, further enlarging the budget deficit. The national currency has lost 25 percent of its value and inflation exceeded 12 percent in 2016.
The figures cover the fiscal year ending in September, meaning they do not include expenses incurred after Hurricane Matthew, which ravaged the island in October, causing damage costing nearly $2 billion, Pharel said.
"The first forecasts for 2017 are alarming because we are talking about one percent growth," he added, saying the rate of economic growth does not cover Haiti's population growth, stable at 1.5 percent.
"You'll see a group of young people finishing university and unable to find a job," Pharel said. "That can encourage delinquency."
Even if the election crisis is settled and a new president installed, the prospect of political stability would not be enough to turn the tide, he added.
"There is not enough competence at the level of political party or government for resolving all the problems," Pharel said. "We will have to call on civil society."
"We also need a parliament that's much more effective at passing laws," he added. "However the current (new) legislature hasn't shown any signs that will be the case."
In the past year, Haitian lawmakers have refused to vote on amending the budget to allow an adjustment of public expenditure to reflect revenue.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Caribbean. More than six of the country's 10.4 million people -- more than half of them under age 20 -- live below the poverty line on less than $ 2.42 a day, according to the latest World Bank study.