Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vouloir c’est pouvoir:

‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’, as we are fond of saying, but sometimes you need money too. I have a lot to say about the family with whom I share a ‘yard’ (same idea but concrete). It will have to be a separate entry, but for now I’ll just say that they are amazing people without whom the country would not feel like home to me.
Monsieur Calixte is a successful contractor, fluent in French, with a university degree in engineering. He is a hard worker, though now he has other people to do most of the work for him, but they have been working on the house next to mine since well before I got here. Why is it taking so long? Why do they work hard some weeks and not at all the next?
I asked him one day and was able to piece together this story in 3 languages. Apparently he worked too hard, and cashed out his capital. When he finished university he had capital to build with. This part is kind of hazy, but I know of at least 4 towns he has finished projects in and that he has at least 3 going right now. He gets lots of work from public works (currently building a central power station for the town) and his employees always seem to be busy with odd-jobs. But he is limited by the payment schedule of his finished projects, which in such a limited economy, is slow.
So now he has worked himself to a standstill. He has lots of equity, but no liquidity. That is to say that his completed projects pay off so slowly that he is severely limited in his current ones. There is no bank to loan to his buyers so they can pay him and owe the bank. If he takes a loan to finish his projects, he still has the same problem.
Monsieur Calixte is not alone in this, there are half finished structures all over the town, and now I know why. There is definitely a will, but it has to wait for the money to come in.
November 13, 2008

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