This is pursuant to a discussion on aid started by Valerie Bruce on June 1.
My observation is that both processes are always in motion - i.e.
requests for aid, and offers of aid. Politicians from developing
countries tour major financial centres with all sorts of plans they would
like to have financed, and they formulate their national budgets on the
premise that aid will be forthcoming.
On the other hand, industrialists and commercial interests in the
developed countries are constantly seeking guaranteed markets for their
output, and their political leaders are expected to play a key role in
the execution of this function. The language is about aid, assistance,
soft loans, lines of credit, and so on, but the critical objective is
about binding a market to a supplier.
To an increasing extent, a considerable portion of the financial flow
takes the form of guaranteed employment for skilled nationals from donor
countries - and not only their employment, but their continued skill
development as well. Sometimes the entire salary and maintenance expense
is borne directly by the receiving country. At other times, there is a
direct locally paid maintenance expense with the salary paid for by the
donor country but out of loan funds to the receiving country withheld for
Both parties may benefit from these arrangements. The donor country
always benefits - immediately and automatically. The receiving country
will benefit if it learns the rules of the game and plays accordingly.
But they may not execute the game plan properly, in which case, it is all
cost and practically no gain.
Recipient countries have serious internal problems which need to be
addressed if they are to gain from these projects. These include
information flow problems, pork barrel politics and administrative
corruption. Even if the aid project is well planned and an appropriate
implementation strategy has been developed, the above list of
inefficiencies act as diffusion filters which can render ineffective the
best laid plans. Indeed, it is not unheard of for a country to find
itself negotiating all over again for a project, even while it is paying
for the first failed attempt.
It should be clear that this third world dilemna will not be solved by
putting together highly skilled technical/professional teams to tackle a
project. This is a necessary condition. There is a political
infrastructure and its underpinnings in the local culture that may have
to undergo a transformation before any change is possible.
Unfortunately, the time frame for changes of this magnitude is of the
order of several generations during which time the most one can expect
are incremental improvements.
By way of introduction, I am a West Indian with one of my ancestral roots
Cedric B. Harold e-mail: [log in to unmask]
Information Systems Manager, Bursary
University of the West Indies fax: (809) 927-2050