Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Clement Rohee and Mrs. Janet Jagan last week lamented the awarding of international aid to small countries with strings attached.
They were both commenting on a specific programme of the Guyana Government. It involves training youths in special skills so they can serve the communities they are located in. An IBD grant was applied for.
The IDB agreed but decided that there would be a seminar component to the package whereby foreign consultants would come and lecture to the youths. Minister Rohee disagreed.
He said he told the IDB that the emphasis should be on job training rather than lectures but the IDB insisted that it wants to retain the education input of the programme.
The IDB is spending US$3M. Mrs. Jagan in commenting on the IDB’s attitude wrote that she thought that such aid with strings belong to the long past.
She wrote that donor funding from the rich countries “continue to be bugged (sic) down with old ideas and worn attitudes….”
There are several angles one can use to comment on the lamentations of Minister Rohee and Mrs. Jagan about international aid.
The first consideration is where does money come from when poor Third World countries receive it as aid? It comes from countries where the state is not involved in commercial transactions and relies on income from taxation.
Two rich contributors to the IDB is the US and Canada. In both of these nations, the state is not involved in economic or financial ventures that bring in profits.
That means that each penny they put into the IDB comes from taxation. There may be an immoral side to international relations in that countries that have vigorous tax collection systems send money to those that are lax in pursuing their wealthy citizens that refuse to pay up.
Secondly, in the specific case of Guyana, why after forty years of sovereignty a potentially rich country has to ask the IDB for a mere US$3M. In the sixties, Guyana’s GNP was towering above Malaysia.
Today, Malaysia is near to first-world status and Guyana is classified among the twelve of the poorest nations in the world.
Does such a nation have the moral right to chastise other countries for the way they dispense aid? The need for aid is bound up with a territory’s economic failure.
Naturally, donor countries should not be cruel in dictating how the funds they dish out should be spent but isn’t respect something that you have to earn?
If countries cannot achieve economic development then states that come to their rescue will disrespect them. Mr. Rohee seems upset that the IDB refused to change its stance.
But suppose the Bank perceives Guyana as a country that should be dictated to because it is always begging the institution.
There is a mountain of truth in that statement – the IDB funds may be everything in this land. Thirdly, how much importance post-colonial nations put on money?
Take Guyana. How much was spent on the Rio Summit and the Commonwealth Finance Ministers’ Conference? How much will be extended on Carifesta?
When put together we are talking about finance that could have gone into making life better for the people in this country.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with, poor countries wanting to host international sporting events, building cultural institutions, spending funds on the arts and aesthetic programmes.
These are natural pursuits for any nation. But its leaders must prioritise. This has been the largest difference between the Burnham Government and the present PPP regime.
For all his political mistakes, Burnham had an economic vision. If the balance of payments nightmare didn’t step, he would have pursued a successful economic blueprint.
The cancer with some Third World leaders is that they put image in front of national welfare. We live in a country where after sixteen years in power, our leaders see image as more important than the provision of a fundamental service as electricity supply.
Finally, how strange that leaders in our government can refer to “old ideas and worn attitudes” of donor countries but the use of power since independence is old, primitive and unchanging.
Mr. Rohee and Mrs. Jagan object to the strings that are attached to the granting of foreign aid but it is fine for strings to be attached when local aid is dispensed by the Government of Guyana to different groups within the nation.
The Guyana Government has held up 39 micro-projects financed by the EU. To date, the people of Guyana have not been given even the courtesy of an explanation.
Funny how these small, undemocratic states in the Third World love to lecture to the richer countries about rights and freedom.
Leaders prostituting Guyana
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