Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Where our Money Goes

Kabul Bank was apparently hailed as proof of progress and modernisation in Afghanistan and held the salaries of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, policemen and government staff paid by international donors. However, following its near collapse in 2010, a forensic audit has revealed that it make huge fraudulent loans totalling some £540 million to a small circle of shareholders, political figures and their companies, with little expectation they would be repaid. Those receiving the money included the brothers of both the president and-vice president.

This money came from international donors, which is the politically correct way of saying the taxpayers in Britain, America and Japan. There is no hope of recovering it as it would seem that the Afghan police and justice systems are just as corrupt as the bank. No doubt the donors have written it off and decided that their taxpayers must cough up some more.

Massive corruption is a way of life not only in Afghanistan but in most so-called third world countries and nowhere more so than in their neighbour Pakistan. What always staggers me is that the donors are so naive as to hand out cash to these countries; in this case there was so much cash that it needed ten Pamir Airways pilots to be on the payroll in order to fly the loot to Dubai.

I am broadly against foreign aid as most appears to be given for political purposes rather than actual need. This country gives aid to countries such as India, Pakistan and China, all of which seemingly can afford huge military expenditure, way in excess of our own. I feel that aid should only be in response to natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods and not handed out as on a routine basis.

But if we are to give aid, in my view it should comply with the following conditions
  • It should never be cash, only goods or services
  • Wherever possible goods should be of a type that are difficult to re-sell and should be made in Britain, thus helping ourselves as we help others.
  • No luxury goods of any type,
  • No armaments or military supplies.
  • Any services (eg road building, etc) to be carried out by British companies, using directly employed local labour as necessary.
  • Where ever possible, the goods should be marked to indicate they were aid.
Some 45 or more years ago I worked for a short while as a technical assistant for the Australian government in London, and one of the jobs that I was involved in concerned the purchase of some airport radio equipment which was to be given as aid. The specification required that the main panels of the equipment were engraved with words to the effect that:
"This equipment  has been given by the people of Australia to the people of XXXX to assist in  the modernisation of their airport"
I think that this was the right approach to aid, it wasn't cash, it couldn't easily be re-sold, it wasn't luxury goods, and it was marked as aid. I wonder if the Australians still do the same in these politically correct times.

Meanwhile, I'm sure that everyone reading this will be pleased to know that while we are struggling to make ends meet, we have helped the government to make millionaires of twelve or so Afghans.

Further details in the Daily Telegraph

No comments:

Post a Comment