IMPLICATIONS FOR HOST COUNTRY MANAGEMENT
Maybe the Toughest Element to Change
by Phil Bartle, PhD
Physician Heal Thyself
INTRODUCTION: WHO ARE THE TARGETS HERE?
We are talking mainly about governmental ministries and departments as implementing agencies.
Here is where we find the strongest vested interests, and the greatest resistance to change.
Politicians and senior civil servants have benefitted for at least fifty years by aid, as they divert the money to their private uses.
A DIFFICULT JOB AHEAD
Transformation will not be easy. This is not a game for weaklings and amateurs.
Anecdote. In a country that I must keep anonymous, the president of the country put in place a permanent secretary (civil servant head of ministry) who was famous for his honesty, belonging as he did to a religious organization that promoted honesty. He was told to clean up the ministry which had a very bad reputation for corruption. He did, and met a lot of resistance. One day he returned home after a weekend visit and made a cup of tea. His and his wife's bodies were found poisoned in their home. This is not a joking matter.
IDENTIFY WRONG USES OF AID
International aid should not be used as a substitute for normal sources of government funding.
International aid should not be a source of vehicles for government officials.
International aid should not be used for social services just to free up resources for military use, or for the oppression of the people.
MORE THAN LIP SERVICE TO TRANSPARENCY
Governmental financing needs to be transparent, and access to the books given to donor agencies.
I was present at a project meeting where the person responsible for heading an implementing agency actually said that revealing the governmental contribution to the project would break a "state secret." This in spite of a signed project document that clearly stated the host government was responsible for sharing that informaton with the donor agency. Needless to say, there were expenditures on the host country budget which were also covered by the donor agency. There were no penalties for non reporting.
CHOOSE TOOLS THAT WORK
The government should make a law that requires every ministry to annually publish, in the newspapers, a list of projects, funding agency, amount of donor and host contry contributions, and moneys spent.
Governent should set up a national watchdog agency, independent of any implementing ministry, to monitor and publicly report on all externally funded projects. The watchdog agency staff may need police protection.
Government should encourage questions from the public, on radio and in the newspapers, about the financial state of any externally funded project.
SELF MONITORING AND POLICING
Host Goverment must set up a monitoring agency to watch for and report on these two negative practices.
You might object that the watchdog agency and the monitoring agency are redundant and duplicate each others work. There is enough work for two agencies, and the monitoring agency would employ forensic accountants while the watchdog would look more closely at the methods of distributing expenditures, searching for evidence of the charity mode.
The law must clearly state that the monitoring agency can ask for ministry financial books at any time, and must be given access to them for examination. Police protection may also be needed here.
Host government can set up several institutions, laws and regulations which will contribute to the abolition of charity from development projects, and a reduction rather than an increase in poverty. These include watchdog and monitoring agencies, protected and independent of politicians and civil servants. They also injclude laws requiring that project funds and how they are spent be pubished in the national newspapers, and encouragement of public debate about thsir impimentation.
Donor agencies can require that these be in place before negotiating any new projects.
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