SUDAN WATCH: Blair wins support for G8 plans - EU plan to double aid is greeted with caution

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Blair wins support for G8 plans - EU plan to double aid is greeted with caution

Tony Blair wins support for G8 plans

May 27 BBC report Blair wins support for G8 plans:

Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi have agreed on plans to increase aid to Africa and tackle climate change, they said after holding talks in Rome.

EU development ministers this week agreed to double aid to poorer nations. Under the deal, the EU's aid will be worth an extra 14 billion GPB annually in five years' time.

The BBC report reveals a document purporting to be a draft communique for the G8's climate change talks has now been published on the weblog. Downing Street refused to say whether or not the leak was genuine.
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EU plan to double aid is greeted with caution

Yesterday's Financial Times reports the European Union's claim this week that it would double development aid by 2010 was greeted with joy by governments and some development charities, who regarded it as a significant breakthrough. Excerpt:
But the history of such announcements, combined with the caveats that surround them, counsels caution. Among other campaigners and some aid experts, scepticism about such announcements extends to the quality of existing aid.

One charity argues in a report today for instance that almost two-thirds of rich country aid is "phantom" aid that does not benefit its recipients.
Full Story at by Alan Beattie May 27, 2005. [with thanks to ij]
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Quotation of the Year

"What's happening in Africa today is something that, if it happened in any other continent in the world, there would be outrage " - Tony Blair



Blogger IJ said...

Lots of thought-provoking information, ij. I'll stick with the macroeconomics.

Can governments (stewards) of countries that prosper in the global economy be expected to donate their people's taxes, voluntarily and endlessly, to governments and international organisations with other priorities?

The priorities of human nature are apparent in a US book review: 'The Future for Investors'. Excerpts are:

"With a diminishing number of workers to support pension plans, tomorrow's seniors have a lot to fret about"

"the outlook for productivity growth and Americans' future living standards are bright. Unfortunately, productivity growth does little to alleviate the burden of the sharply rising number of retirees facing a diminishing number of workers to contribute to pension plans."

"investors must go international. The U.S. does not have a monopoly on the "tried and true" companies that I recommend. . . Good stock performances will not be limited to firms headquartered in China and India or even the U.S., but to any firm that takes advantage of growing markets and provides trustworthy products. Since more than half of the equity capital is now headquartered outside our country, investors must diversify to take advantage of the coming global growth."

Therefore attracting investment looks like the one-size-fits-all priority for governments. Where this is leading isn't important (over the cliff?) - just step on the gas.

Saturday, May 28, 2005  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Hello ij, I've asked myself the same question especially at times when I found it galling that in the case of the genocidal regime in Khartoum they are not even grateful and treat aid as though it is something we are foisting on them.

Also, since following the Sudan crisis it occurred to me that aid is actually imprisoning millions of people in concentration camps for years on end.

The longer it goes on, millions of people are sitting around doing nothing, not working to feed their families, not contributing, not part of society. And the taxpayers of the West are footing the bill for (what seems to me) keeping a handful of men in power to call the shots on how long it goes on for.

If, say in April 2004, there would have been a rapid reaction force made up from troops of each country on the UN Security Council I think it would have been possible for the UN Security Council to mandate its force to enter the Sudan to protect the aid workers and provide unimpeded access for aid to get through; while diplomatic processes and UN resolutions are issued to impose no fly zones and force the Khartoum regime to install law and order or accept outside police forces to help. Then there should come a time when a regime such as that in Khartoum need to step down having failed to govern properly and fulfil its responsbilities - or arrested.

In the meantime, if each member of the UN - 191 countries - contributed a set sum each year, the UN would know where it stands and would not have to go cap in hand each time. My understanding is the US is the worst offender and never pays its subs on time causing a whole load of problems and waste of man hours chasing payments.

Years ago, West Germany used to having something I think was called a Church Tax. 10% or something was deducted from each taxpayer as a contribution to the church, which I guess then turned into projects for worthy causes.

Tithing is something people, especially Christians understand. What I am suggesting here is that each government tithes (real tithing actually means 10%) a set percentage of its income each year.

In the past USAID sent grain from America instead of cash - recently I read somewhere that the transportation and distribution costs to somewhere like the Sudan were so great, it was better to use money and buy the grain from the nearest country.

Recently the UK government donated 400-600 trucks for the AU mission in Darfur. Perhaps companies ought to donate the trucks and the UK government pay for the shipping from its tithing kitty.

If countries who are cancelling the debts of others, like the Sudan, are counting that sum of money in terms of aid donated - how do we know how much is actually contributed in hard cash to pay for the costs in getting aid to countries in distress. Oxfam has its own planes. Someone has to buy the petrol etc. even if the goods like water pumps, plastic sheeting etc are donated by manufacturing firms. And then there is the salaries and upkeep of aid workers.

Humanitarian relief is now a multi billion pound business that needs looking into. International aid workers ought to be provided with minders whether a country like Sudan likes it or not. What I am suggesting here is aid agencies go in to countries brining their own security force.

The whole thing boils down to UN reform. No doubt you know an important meeting is taking place this September. I think it is the single most issue that everyone in the world should take notice of.

The UN is all we have. We need it. Those who bash the UN don't suggest an alternative. The UN does a great deal of super fantastic work. And the world would be a poorer place without it. It just needs modernising to adapt to today's changing world and shifting alliances.

Asian countries are forming powerful alliances and the Muslims are growing like topsy. The world's scene has changed dramatically since the UN was set up in response to the Holocaust - when its mantra became "Never Again". The biggest reform within the UN has to be the Security Council, although I do not know enough about it to comment.

Ref your point on the number of workers to support pension plans - it is this years taxpayers who are paying this years pensioners. I feel if housing weren't so costly, people would need a lot less hard cash to live on. Why is housing so costly. I've not ever been able to figure that one out. What if housing were free? And we were solar powered? And we bought and ate locally produced food? And we had great transportation which meant individuals would not have to use cars and goods could be delivered to our door.

To my mind, there are great solutions. It all just needs sifting, sorting and rearranging. All the basics are there, it's all just done in a messy expensive wasteful way.

And people from the age of 5 yrs on up should learn how to cook from scratch, how to shop for and how to spend and save money - and be taught why tithing is important.

Saturday, May 28, 2005  
Blogger IJ said...

For what it's worth, a reminiscence. Your comments reminded me of a book I bought a few years back called 'Driving Change - how the best companies are preparing for the 21st Century'. It contains "The Ford 2000 plan that emerged [to plot the way ahead] radically reorganised the old company. . . [The CEO] called for "passion, passion passion". A little recognised but essential attribute.

Anyway, you reasonably conclude "The whole thing boils down to UN reform. . . The UN is all we have. We need it." In addition, I would like the UN to undergo an effectiveness audit soon. Is it doing the wrong things well with public money?

This also ties in with a thread running through earlier posts. There is a huge problem of ensuring effectiveness in the public sector, not just in developing countries: if a private sector organisation is ineffective, the market closes it down. However if a public sector organisation is hopelessly ineffective it often continues unchanged (especially the international public sector).

There are numerous 'Enrons' in the public sector. Unfortunately, the will to solve such serious problems is regularly thwarted by enterprising human nature.

Saturday, May 28, 2005  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Hello ij, Good to hear from you. Thank you for your interesting reply. I have a hunch ethics will become ultra important to consumers in the future - companies and products/services will be judged/bought/used depending on how ethical they are. The more ethical a company, the more favoured and popular its brand.

The above links lead to information on UN reform - which I am sharing here for readers who may not be aware of the very important high-level panel report recommendations on UN reform.

Saturday, May 28, 2005  
Blogger IJ said...

Consumerism in the private sector is indeed important for the prosperity of investors, ij. A greater concern though seems to be the political framework governing the private sector - determined of course by the public sector.

One difficulty is there is little pressure on the trillion dollar public sector to reform itself. National examples abound of taxpayers being unfairly penalised. Political wars on red tape are frequently promised - but seldom delivered. And at an international level, things are no better: the accounts of the European Union have been seriously qualified for ten years in a row by the auditors. Moreover, it was reported that the director-general of Internal Audit at the EU was warned: “We have ways of breaking people like you”.

The public sector is a real problem. Sudan is an example of the harm being done.

Saturday, May 28, 2005  

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