Re: The future of foreign aid in PNG after 25 years of successes or failures?October 25 2002 at 9:00 AM
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Response to The future of foreign aid in PNG after 25 years of successes or failures?
I find this article interesting. Following are some of my own views, comments and questions.
1. In general, in my simple layman's understanding, foreign aid is BAD for PNG!
2. Foreign aid is a big business, it is funded and operated by foreign govts, and now increasingly by private donors.
3. The stunning failures of foreign aid, as you indicated in your article (60% failure rate after 1978), are a consequence of several problems. Perhaps, the underlying reason is that foreign donors are funding their own interests - "strategic, economic, political, ideological and historical or cultural links" - and in most, if not all, cases, these interests are not always aligned with the recipient nation's own interests, development needs, and aspirations. For instance, Australia's interest in PNG is perhaps for strategic as well as historical reasons but PNG does not have a perception or share the same strategic interest.
4. Quote: "The dramatic decline in fertility in some provinces can be directly linked to the population programs of donors, notably the United Nations." Japan is increasingly fearful of becoming a minority in Asia and it has increasingly funded population control, especially in The Phillipines. (There are reports that I have read of mothers being forced into family planning and sterilized!) Shall we be skeptical about Japanese govt-funded immunization programs just recently completed a year or so ago and was hailed as a success by all involved, including all PNG govt Health officials, that such a program was not disguised as a fertility control exercise, and therefore the next generation will be forever sterile and not as productive as their fathers are? After all everybody in the region should be concern with the country's birth rate, which is the highest in the world!
5. Quote: "On average, 90 percent of the rural population lives below poverty line." I saw the headline yesterday in one of the PNG dailies that quoted a nun saying "PNG does not have poverty"!!! Poverty is only relative and I am of the view that there are no poor persons in PNG and therefore poverty is NOT there!
6. If there is no poverty in PNG then the linchpin of programs funded by WB, ADB, IMF, etc., especially in poverty-alleviation is a fallacy! Of course, these agencies can define their own version of poverty and therefore justify their continuous peddling of aids to PNG.
7. Foreign aid does NOT strengthen existing institutions (and that is because PNG govt and politicians are bad, after all!) but continues to erode and undermine legitimate govt and govt agencies. If a govt is not in favour with it, the donor can shift their funding to "stand-alone institutions" and NGOs in direct efforts to undermine govt efforts and existing capacity and institutions and consequently the national sovereignty. Foreign donors should also shoulder some of the blame for weakening existing govt capacities! In this regard, foreign aid is bad for PNG!
8. If PNG wants to make great strides in its own development, it should critically look at how foreign aid is utilized in the country. Some of it, the country probably does not need it.
9. With increasing foreign aid, PNG's debt burden grows. There is no respite in store for a next 100 generations unless every person realizes how detrimental/useful foreign aid can become to the country. As they now say in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Turkey: "Dollarize the debt, Devalue the local currency, Default on repayments, and Die"!!!! In our own case, PNG borrowed almost US$2 billion since 1977 but since the Kina was devalued in 1994 and with the so-called "floating-exchange" rate mechanism put in place, Kina lost 40% of its value against the US dollar. PNG now has K7 billion debt to repay, which we are told is close to 75% of our GDP!
10. I think such article stirs up some passionate discussions amongst the educated elites and potential and current policy makers.
11. We should dispense our own ideas in an increasing effort to highlight the dilemma of foreign aid and start constructive utilization of such generosity from donors, of course this is a big business and we need to be business-like and not merely dependents and recipients!
12. Start by abolishing the "floating exchange rate" mechanism and adopt the previous Bretten-Woods system (ie. reintroduce the "hard Kina policy)!