Monday, May 30, 2005

Hope, Faith & what's that 3rd word?

ActionAid, an international charity organization, reported that international aid money has been wasted, misdirected or recycled within the rich countries themselves. ActionAid discovered that 61 per cent of aid flows were ‘phantom’ rather than in ‘real’ terms.

As examples, a donor spents the aid money on overpriced technical assistance from (its own) international consultants, tying aid to purchases from donor countries’ own firms, cumbersome and ill-coordinated planning, implementation, excessive administrative costs, late and partial disbursements, double counting of debt relief, and immigration services. This ‘phantom aid’ rises to almost 90% in the case of France and the United States.

Only 11% of French aid is genuine, though France spends nearly $2bn on technical assistance.

The USA fared slighter better, but just, providing only 14% real aid. Every 86 cents in the dollar is phantom, largely because it is tied to the purchase of expensive American goods and services.

The Bush Administration AIDS/HIV drugs plan does not permit the purchase of cheaper, generic drugs. It’s obvious the aim is to ensure lucrative contracts to US pharmaceutical companies. But this means that there would be lesser amount of the vital drugs for those who need them. But hey, who cares if fewer AIDS/HIV patients are treated in the 3rd World so long as US companies benefit!

Banzai! Japanese aid, as an example, to Vietnam, ensures that 86% is spent on infrastructure projects that facilitates the movement of Japanese exports into the country. Naturally the Japanese aided projects may be found in areas where Japanese firms operate.

This is not a new revelation as the Japanese has subscribed to this policy for the last 40 years or so. The other beneficial aspect for the Japanese themselves is that such Japanese aided infrastructure also facilitates the outward movement of material necessary for Japan’s need, such as timber, minerals, oil and gas, and perhaps, port facilities for their whaling fleet (sorry, I couldn't help adding in the last one).

Have Hope & Faith in rich donors certainly, but don't count too much on Charity!

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