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VOICE organized a press conference 'End Policy Conditionalities, Ensure Democratic Ownership'

By farjana - Posted on 28 August 2008

No strings with foreign aid demanded

Social and development activists on Monday called for bringing an end to conditions in taking foreign aid and ensure a transparent, accountable and coordinated process based on the UN charter.

Representatives of a number of organisations, under the banner of Aid Accountability Group, expressed their concern over the issue at a news conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity, organised ahead of the ministerial meeting on ‘effectiveness of foreign aid’ to be held in Ghanaian capital Accra in September 2-4.

The speakers warned that the US and the World Bank at the Accra meeting would try to establish the dominance of the lenders in setting terms and conditions for providing foreign assistance to developing countries.

Alongside the ministerial meeting, citizens’ organisation from all over the world will also meet in Accra from August 31 to September 1 to discuss how foreign assistance can be made more effective in the development process of a country.
The coordinator of the Aid Accountability Group, Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, also the executive director of Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment, stressed ensuring ‘democratic ownership’ of foreign aid.

The executive director of Ongikar Bangladesh, Mohammad Helaluddin, Dhaka University’s economics teacher Dr Piyash Karim, Ratan Sarkar of Incidin Bangladesh, Mohammad Abdul Awal of Shushasoner Jonno Procharavijan and Kazi Mahbubur Rahman of the Centre for Policy Dialogue also spoke on the occasion.

Quoting a research, Swapan said 25 per cent of the aid went back to the donors, 30 per cent went to the pockets of the bureaucrats, contractors, politicians and different agents, 20 per cent to rich traders while the rest, only 25 per cent, was used for poverty alleviation. ‘Actually, foreign assistance has no effectiveness,’ he said.
Representatives of the development organisations noted that in the last three decades, the amount of grants had declined while loans from the donors had increased.
In 1991-92, the amount of loan was 10 per cent of the foreign aid while it stood at 57 per cent of the total foreign assistance in 1998-99, they said.

To make foreign aid effective, the Aid Accountability Group puts forward a seven-point recommendation, including formulation of an independent national development policy and coming out of the aid trap.

Transparency while receiving foreign aid stressed

Speakers at a press conference called for maintaining transparency and accountability while receiving foreign aid in the greater interest of the country.

Speakers at a press conference yesterday said the government should receive such foreign aid, can protect the right of the country.
They were speaking at a press conference on 'Effective Foreign Aid' jointly organised by Voice and Aid Accountability Group, two local NGOS at the Dhaka Reporters Unity auditorium yesterday.

Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, Executive Director of Voice, read out a statement at the press conference.In a written statement, Swapan Mahmud, said the World Bank and IMF provided loan to the developing countries with so many strings attached to them.

These conditionalities deprived the recipient countries of their fundamental rights, he observed.He further said that fulfilment of the donors' irrational conditions only deepened poverty in the recipient countries.He alleged that the World Bank, IMF and Asian Development Bank interfere in the state policy of the aid receiving countries. These agencies are more interested in providing loan instead of aid for earning hefty interests on loan. Of the total support during the last three decades to Bangladesh, loan constitutes 52 per cent and aid 48 per cent, he informed.

The government has increased fuel price as well as privatised the public service oriented organisations following the direction of foreign aid giving agencies, the Voice executive director said.

Dr Pias Karim said our country could achieve self-reliance without taking loans as nearly 70 per cent of the total loans is spent in meeting consultancy fees and interest on them.

Different human right groups will chalk out a two-day programme from August 31 prior to two-day ministerial level meeting of aid giving countries and agencies on 'Effectiveness of Foreign Aid' at Accra in Ghana.