Wednesday, May 31, 2006

World Bank, PBS and Aid Politics for Dummies: Part 2

My quest to seek higher knowledge about economics has unearthed the inner geek in me. How else can I explain why I spent a whole hour watching Nova? … Renewed hope on String Theory that has led to the M Theory… how extra dimensions exist because they come out of the equations of string theory… strings need to move in more than three dimensions… Yummy.

Chaaaah.

So donor nations’ problem child, Ethiopia, got a $1.o5 billion aid package from the World Bank. See? See what blocking opposition websites, repressing free speech, jailing the opposition and being an AK-47 wielding goon in a silk tie gets ya? Schweeet.

And, as always, the World Bank’s ‘aw shucks’ explanation as to why the Ethiopian government gets rewarded for ragamuffin behavior is more interesting than the reward itself because, true to form, the World Bank assumes we are all snot-eating imbeciles. Love that.

Get ready, set… whatever…

Instead of lending to the national government as it usually does, the [World] bank will provide $215 million of its new aid to hundreds of local governments, mainly for basic services such as water, health and education.

Monsieur Ishac Diwan, care to string together a blustery, yet oddly predictable vociferation? You do? Oh well.

"It's not a magic solution. It's just a completely different way of doing business."

Completely different? Hmm. Like paying protection money to Tony Soprano through Benny Fazio instead of Silvio Dante different?

The problem is, no one asks Dr. Diwan what exactly is the difference between the federal and local government. Who controls local governments? Who are its leaders? Oh, yeah. Why were local elections ‘postponed’ by the federal government? So when Dr. Diwan tells us this is a “completely different” way of doing business, I think we are supposed to nod seriously and be awed by his declamatory fiat. We’re not worthy. We’re not worthy.

On November 16, 2005, a clearly agitated Dr. Diwan was unwavering in his convictions.

"Aid will be cut. The question is by how much?" Isaac Diwan, World Bank country director in Ethiopia, said in an interview.

"We have sent very clear signals that international and World Bank assistance will be cut over time if the governance situation does not improve," Diwan said.

Well the “government situation” must have improved since November... what? Why are you giving me the stink eye? All opposition leaders are safely in prison; journalists are journaling… in prison, and Prime Minister Meles has not called anyone else a “self appointed colonial viceroy.” Let aid money rain.

In a May 17 letter to EthioMedia, Dr. Diwan promised this new direct budgetary supplement that shalt not be referred to as direct budgetary supplement would:

have stringent reporting requirements and explicit mechanisms for promoting transparency and accountability in public budgets, resource use and service delivery.

Okeydokeysmokey.

The project has not one, but two, strong components that would seek to empower the poor to demand quality public services.

Ya? Two? Well, good luck with that because the Ethiopian government has not two but hundreds of strong components to keep its poor nice and un-empowered. But, okay. We get it. Maybe ‘stringent reporting requirements’ will tempt the Ethiopian government to treat its people decently. We all know what deference Prime Minister Meles has for ‘stringent’ reporting.

But here comes the Ethiopian American Civic Advocacy to put the kabash on Dr. Diwan’s buoyant head trip. On May 24, our own Inde Hewan, patron Saint of Wonqville and econ chick extraordinaire, wrote a response to Dr. Diwan.

The letter takes umbrage with the awkward nomenclature and the logic behind the whole “thou shalt not call the Protection of Basic Services (avert your eyes and bow) direct budgetary supplement. Ahoy, witness the birth of PBS…may it live long and prosper. You may FedEx your ululations ” reasoning.

Speak, EACA.

… just because the loan is no longer channeled directly to the federal government budget, but rather to the subnational government budgets, it is no less a form of budget support. We are critical on the basis of the substance of the loan, not its formal labeling.

Oh, EACA. Picky, picky, picky.

But the EACA is rankled by something else. It ferreted out the bank’s February project information document, which I assume means a document that has information on a particular project. (I told you, genius resides amongst you.) In it, we are told why the PBS is not the bastard child of direct budgetary supplement. (Italics theirs, underlining mine.)

What sets the approach of the PBS apart from the previous modality of direct budget support, is the way in which the PBS operation will involve more timely and detailed reporting on the use of resources, explicit monitoring and oversight of the fairness of the transfers, monitoring of service delivery results at the Regional/sub-national levels rather than national levels, and the introduction of measures to encourage local accountability to support Government’s commitment to distribute resources for basic service delivery equitably.

(Haaaaa? “Government’s commitment to distribute resources for basic service delivery equitably”!!?? Is that like telling Tony Soprano, “Hey, ho. Ho, hey. Vinne “two fingers” Blundetto said to make sure you distribute his ‘contribution’ evenly between Carmella and all the rest of your gumbahs.”)

Okay, alright already! There will be strict monitoring of funds. We get it.

But… hold it, hold it… what is this on page three…?

While the PBS itself has no direct mechanism to influence choices made at the local government level, the preservation of resource flows for basic services should enable expansion in service coverage and incremental improvements in service quality.

Okay, now I am confused. Hhhh’watt? Whaddayamean the PBS has “no direct mechanism to influence choices made at local government level”, bud? But what happened to the stringent accountability we were promised? And what in the heck does “the preservation of resource flows for basic services should enable expansion in service coverage and incremental improvements in service quality” mean??

Me no likee economics.

Naturally, the EACA has questions about the “we can’t influence what happens with the money” part:

This statement is no longer present in the May version of the PID. Is that because the PBS has indeed been redesigned to [introduce] mechanisms for influencing budget choices, or is it structurally the same as the February conception of the PBS, on this point?

Goddamit. Does this mean that I have to read the May PID. Say no… say no… say no…

So let’s get this straight: after so much hype about accountability and transparency and how this is a completely different way of doing business, we are told that the bank has, really, no influence as to how local governments distribute the money? Then, someone at Dr. Diwan’s office realized we know how to… what do you call that thing… read, and xnayed that phrase. Hope they replaced it with examples of some of them crazy stringent requirements.

Not quite. Hmm. I don’t know about this Diwan feller. I just don’t know.

Okay. Bygones. I am sure after realizing the faux pas in the February PID the bank lays out a series of clearly thought out and specific ways to monitor the moolah. La-la-la. It does. It does. I refuse to believe it doesn’t.

So, how would the PBS make sure that, say, an Ato Demissew Sereqe, chairman of Asresh Michew district in Central Ethiopia does not “appropriate” X number of PBS dollars to a ‘water project’ located in, say, his backyard that kinda might resemble a swimming pool but not really? No doubt the bank is taking extra care of Americans’ tax money.

Weeeelll, not so much. EACA, care to opine?

... the document does not further elaborate what thresholds of divergence of actual spending patterns from budgeted allocations would set off a discontinuation of spending.

Huh? I read that as, “We all know the money is gonna be diverted, Diwan. Question is, do you have a threshold for what is acceptable divergence and unacceptable divergence of aid?” What would the Ethiopian government have to do with PBS money for Dr. Diwan to get unsettled? Let’s say Ato Demissew decides to add a cabana to that pool. Would that mean he won’t get money for the stainless steel outdoor grill his wife has been haranguing him about?

Goddamit. Now I really have to read the May PID.

Let’ see…. Open your books to the May PID, boys and girls, wet your thumb and start flipping… Country and Sector Background… Okay. Objectives… yadda.. yadda. Rationale for Bank Involvement… whatever. Description… four components … Ah! Component 3 on Financial Transparency and AccountabilitySit back. Enjoyyy.

Sub-Program C will support… [eh?] government-implemented (i.e., supply side) activities at the Regional/City Administration, and Woreda and sub-Woreda levels to significantly enhance transparency around public budget procedures (budget preparation, expenditure and audits); and, foster broad engagement, strengthened “voice” and client power of citizen representative groups and citizens more broadly on public budget processes and public service delivery.

Blink. Blink... Blink?

This component will also finance accountants and Information Technology experts to be hired by MOFED to enhance its own capacity and to provide TA to the regions and Woredas. It will also finance urgent capacity strengthening activities for the Office of the Federal Auditor General.

MoFED = Ministry of Finance and Development of Ethiopia.

TA does not = T and A

Well, this is creepy.

After whipping us into a frenzy about “timely and detailed reporting… explicit monitoring… oversight and monitoring of service delivery ” we are left with hope that the Ethiopian government will self-monitor?

What is the economics-y way of saying cotius interuptus?

So, to summarize, and forgive me for the plebian interpretation of Component 3, Dr. Diwan, but does it boil down to giving the federal government money to hire, um, beady-eyed accountants and misanthrope IT geeks who can maneuver a mouse through Excel spreadsheets to significantly enhance transparency? We are giving the Office of the Federal Auditor General (hopefully not a fancy name for Prime Minister Meles’ personal banker) money for some urgent “capacity strengthening.” Exsqueeze me very much, did they say that we are going through MoFED to ensure transparency and accountability? We are soooo Mo-Fucked.

In case you care anymore, here is how “Basic services” are defined in the PBS:

…primary and secondary education, health, water supply & sanitation, rural roads, agricultural extension, labor, social welfare.”

Basically, anything a half-way decent government should be providing for its people without being begged to do so.

And what, pray tell, is possibly excluded?

… spending on public order and security, and some economic sectors whose link to poverty is ambiguous, e.g. Mines and Energy, and [read this carefully] “miscellaneous spending”

Umm… really? “Miscellaneous spending” will no longer be an acceptable line item? My, my. These are stringent checks and balances. Can someone inform the new accountants?

Okay, help us out, Dr. Diwan. We realize you might have forgotten to add specifics on accountability here; after all, $1.05 billion has a lot of zeros in it and little details are bound to get lost. So, we in Wonqville, the economic theory challenged, would like to ask your help in deciphering which of the following is/is not legitimate spending of PBS funds:

1) An assistant to the Minister of MoFED who will hire accountants, but not IT support staff

2) An assistant to the Minister of MOFED who will hire IT staff but not accountants

3) A “Sanitation Czar” who will make sure all the supporting documents coming to you will be sanitized as defined by MoFED

4) Curtains for the Office of the Federal Auditor General

5) Security, um, consultants to protect primary and secondary school students from the influences of “anti-peace” elements

6) A Ministry that will try to understand what “social welfare” means

7) Clinics to inoculate the citizenry from deadly busybodies viruses such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch

8) A mechanism that faily and effectively distributes fertilizer to the poor (who did not vote for the CUD.)

We look forward to Dr. Diwan’s response.

And incase you are not quite yet pulverized by WB logic, sink your teeth into this baby:

[PBS] would thus aim to provide the required funding to prevent Government from having to make cuts in pro-poor expenditures especially at sub-national levels.

Surely the Ethiopian government cannot be expected to cut its “upholding of rule of law” budget to feed its poor and provide them with basic services, could it?

And someone, please, check the Ethiopian government’s loose definition of “pro poor”…

This economics is fun. Will be back with part three.

In the meantime, here is Dr. Diwan on VOA. It’s required listening for part three.

…………………………………….

VOA Amharic, you know, the one that harbors genocidal maniacs, reported on a seminar at the American Embassy in Addis about AGOA, a program that promotes trade and entrepreneurship as way to development. Funnily, the EPRDF has not bothered to jump on that ‘pro-poor’ bandwagon. Well, to be fair, it IS easier to extort money from the west. “Give us money or more people will die.”

Redeem Ethiopia elaborates on that.

Besides, there is no Ministry of Fiscal Adherence to Conceptual, Keen Efficiency and Development (MoFACK-ED) in Ethiopia. (Oh yeah. Have a million of those.)

Quote of the month:

However, they also serve to change the subject from human rights, EU Parliament meetings and US Congressional hearings to focus the donor mind on how happy the West should be that Ethiopians at least aren't engaged in cannibalism and how little should be expected from or for them.

Ethiopundit: Meles Love You Long Time.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are hilarious, intellegent, independent, and so so ---- my kind of a lady!
I have read most of your posts and you are upping it on every occasion.
Keep up the good work and I am sure history/Ethiopia will reward you with love and admiration.
We are not far away from our 'tensae'

9:23 PM, May 31, 2006  
Anonymous jiraf said...

omg. we are totally mo' fucked. how come my econ classes were boring?

10:19 PM, May 31, 2006  
Anonymous Red said...

Just close your eyes and remember your Qebele and KefiteGNa LiQeMember, YeHibret SuQ Halafi, YeAbiyote TebaQi Meri... now these are the kinds of people the WB is expecting to deliver PBS, make sure they are on top of their Access, PDF and Word application knowledge to submit error-proof reports. We all know how EPRDF is depleted in human capacity beyond a hand-full of the top brass. The rest are regurgitators of Meles' spin. It's simply amazing on whose hands the fate of millions of poor and destitue Ethiopians are left to chance....

12:30 AM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

weichegud,

investing on IT for monitoring purposes is really not what you make it. i have seen the effects of computer technologies on avoiding bureaucracy and improving service delivery at ethiopian customs in bole. with the paper gone, tracking transactions is a lot more easier and there is less room to misrepresent/falsify. data aggregation and reporting is also that much easier. so cut them slack about wanting to invest on IT and get off the back of IT professionals too. not their fault if you have problems with excel spreadsheets.

also might be helpful if you can read/think about sovereignity of nations and to what extent you can dictate/buy/prescribe policy or micro-manage the running of country regardless of the money you are donating/loaning.

the stuff we/you should spend our energy and time on is really educating ethiopians about their rights and responsibilities. world bank or US know what is best for them. no need for me to be more catholic than the pope. if each ethiopian knows what his/her responsibilites, rights are, if he/she has enough knowledge about the world, our country, if he/she can reconcile their needs with other peoples' needs, with the resources we have and have not it don't matter diwan, or eu..

so i feel you are really wasting your emotional and other capital on wrong constituency. have you really thought about talking this out with fellow ethiopians in your surrounding. and not the yay sayers no matter the circumstances. like many here who would be too happy (knowingly or unkowingly) to cheer you on over the cliff. becareful about believing your own hype and seek those who would challenge you respectfully if you want to make your arguments stronger or you want to be strong about the right position.

i was for instance surprised that ethiopia received less aid this year than it did in 1999 at the height of the ethiopia-eritrea war. go look up what those spending money in ethiopia say about the bang they get for it. i am not in any way suggesting we shouldn't raise the bar fast and continuously. but lets do it tastefully and in a way that will have a positive impact on the ethiopian population (poor at large) and doesn't throw the baby with the bath water in terms of sovereignity et al.

melkam wlo

12:45 AM, June 01, 2006  
Blogger zegabi said...

Anonymous...please!

I think you have missed the point completely. The issue is not one of how Meles gets audited. I suggest a re-read.

I am not sure what it is that you find surprising about the aid numbers. Up until Meles started to kill civilians Aid has grown steadily and at 25% each year most years.

In any case if you are expecting that Ethiopia will be aided out of poverty, then you are probably the one that needs the yae sayers around you removed. Not aid, but aid plus remittance (which probably completely dwarfs the actual dollar amount that gets into the hands Meles and co) has pulled the country out of poverty. With out an enabling policy and an accountable government the money is at best a waste and at worst a burden for future Ethiopians to carry. It is ofcourse a lifesaver for Meles and his party.

2:02 AM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous etw said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for your comment.

Sovereignty?! Whachootalkingabout wills? Isn’t that the last argument of a government that does not quite get the concept of 'accountability.'

Here is what some bureaucrat said about why the Ethiopian government did not allow any election observers in 2000, when the elections were mercilessly rigged.

There has also been much criticism over the absence of external observers in this election. But Dr Kinfe Abraham, senior political adviser to the foreign minister, says it is a matter of sovereignty.

"This election will be better than the first one which took place in 1995 - where there were observers," he said.

"We needed monitors as it was our first election. But now, it relates to a question of sovereignty. You cannot have observers from outside, if you are a sovereign state," he added.

"You don't call for observers in the United States, in the UK or even in the other younger democracies."


The EPRDF should be accountable to the Ethiopian people first, not to the World Bank. Unfortunately, its record on accountability and good governance is so dismal, someone has to chaperone it and guide it towards stringent requirements. . (If you call what the WB has laid out as ‘stringent.’ (Demmo essum stringent tebale??) Believe me, it is as much an embarrassment to you as it is us. But when you can’t even provide basic services for your people without aid, (while claiming you are bashing poverty in the head to Chinese media and the poor ENA) you need to be treated like a juviee.
This government has consistently abused aid money. To be indignant and pull out the sovereignty card is a BIT haughty, would you say.

In fact, an argument can be made that it is the EPRDF which has jeopardized Ethiopian sovereignty. What is the total amount of aid Ethiopia has received since the EPRDF took over. I’ve read accounts that it tops $20 BILLION. Well, donor nations expect something out of that kind of money. And don’t the American people have the right to ask what’s happening to their money?

Oops. I stepped on IT toes. Sorry. But I am curious as to why there has not been a way to track this money through technology in the first place? How were they tracking the last, say, $10 Billion?

8:25 AM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous Not genet zewdie said...

wonqilat,

"like many here who would be too happy (knowingly or unkowingly) to cheer you on over the cliff. becareful about believing your own hype and seek those who would challenge you respectfully if you want to make your arguments stronger or you want to be strong about the right position."

WTF?? that was in my fortune cookie last night. (shouldn't have ordered the sweet and sour pork. god is punishing me.)

9:15 AM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous kezira said...

my "muTi avalanche alert" is on H-H-High.

can you believe *I* read the may p.i.d...!! considering the last thing i read was the puzzle on the back of a frosty flakes box, i can say its one giant leap for slackerhood. hate you, wonq.

not sure if i am one of those constituents who will throw you off a cliff, but if you can get me to read economics stuff, then you have done your part to better humanity. like you said, save for a few brave almot by tegadaioch like sister IH, we have been absent from this discussion. it baffles me the kind of brain power in the diaspora. eaca's letters to dr d!! sublime.

now where's that cliff?

11:35 AM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous ye mankusaw welafen said...

Emet WonqeTTE,

I have it on good authority that Ato Demssisachew Sereqe from Asresh Mchiew Wereda, hen pecked husband of Wzro. Gimbish-Shewa Aschenaqi, distant zemed to our own Not Anonymous is verily irked by your public rebuke of using PBS money for the pool and cabana. Weyehulish. My sources further tell me that Wzro. Gimbwa is dictating a 'stringent' letter to you via Lij Not Anonymous.

Kezira was wondering where the cliff is? In Wro. Gimbwa's acid tongue.

Bicha tenagriyalehuuuuuuuuuuu.

12:11 PM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

Here I go wastin’ emotional capital on this but, as Zegabi suggested, perhaps Anonymous could benefit from a second reading of the post. It’s not uncommon for a reader with sub-average literary skills to miss the full flavor of wonq’s subtelties, her wit and her unique form of communication first time ‘round. Damn, I must be a yay-sayer!

Anyway, I did not think that wonq was singling out them IT misanthropes for a targeted attack as Anonymous would have it. I thought the IT-reference was one of many ridiculous absurdities she offered by way of making the point that the loop-holes in this here crazy scheme (PBS) are so huge as to make accountability virtually impossible. That was all.

As for the question of the “sovereignity of nations” that Anonymous brings up, wonq (in comments) hit the nail on the head. Whenever and wherever the issue of independent oversight comes up, uncharcteristically, “sovereignity” suddenly becomes an angebgabi matter to the EPRDF. Sovereignity! Sovereignity! U-U-U-U-ere Sovereignity! The standard response of “Ideologues under stress” as Theodore Vestal calls the bunch.

And then, you have folks like Anonymous who, wittingly or unwittingly, go around repeating an argumentum ad nauseum lifted straight out the EPRDF’s catalog of talking points. Sovereignity! Sovereignity! U-U-U! Talk about being mo-fucked!

Aya Mankusaw, ye w/o “stringent” debdabE is forthcoming. Indenek bayalew?

1:21 PM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

zegabi,

the issue is also how meles gets audited. we want accountable leaders

zegabi says aid plus remittance (remittance dwarfing aid perhaps)
why do you think people are sending more and more of their money to ethiopia, because they know they are going to lose it?

also check the amount of debt meles and co negotiated to be cancelled versus any new loans that were taken by them. i believe the balance is on the cancelled side. so i am not sure about increasing the burden on future ethiopians.

weichegud/etw

thank you for your response too. i am not one who thinks there should not be observers from outside during elections. so i am with you on that.

agree also about eprdf needing to be accountable to the etiopian people before the world bank. but with regards to the chaperoning all the oposition seem/seemed to need it as well. and it should/should have been the educated/"enlightened" diaspora like you and me who should be helping to broaden the horizon of all the political groups and forcing them to think through complexities. we jump too quick to endorsing what claimed politicians say.

yes most likely aid money has been abused. how many people that you know have stolen/abused money/power responsibilities? i don't believe you would say none. this stuff is pervasive in our communities in ethiopia or out here. we can't outsource the fixing of this problem to the government alone. as much as they are a part of the problem, they are also inheriters of a bankrupt system. i wish someone could tell us how much money the ethiopian treasury had when meles and Co took over the government? i am pretty sure it is shocking.


world bank, un, unicef, a plethora of ngo/aid organizations do abuse aid money too. how much of the money they supposedly give as aid is spent on their own bureaucrats? and their own companies and consultants? a high percentage. that needs addressing too. i am really not sure if the money was switched over to them, it will be all that better utilized. i am certain it would have made the country more dysfunctional.

with regards to total amount of aid number. $20B or more or less. you should know the vast majority of that is in kind. including pretty useless consultants, oil, cereals etc. so how do you take out the dependency out of every ordinary kebede that may be a farmer, a civil servant, a military personel, academic.. we talk the talk but are we really endowed with the enterpreunerial spirit? but i realise government policies and actions have to do with why we have such a broken spirit. but there is more each of us must do.

also check aid per capita in other african/asian/central american countries compared to ethiopia. what the results are for the pure cash flowing into those areas. you ask how they were tracking the last $10 billion. my answer is i don't know for sure but i don't see donors disputing meles and co's claim about the last 4 or 5 years about hitting agreed targets for the aid. lets look more into it.

as for kezira, ye mankusaw welafen.. MTS.. yhunlachhu experts that you are at wasting your own times and trying to waste mine...


alas thats enought typing for days

1:37 PM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous Gooch said...

anon 2,

I think two points of substance in your post: 1) The Ethiopian government must maintain its sovereignty, and 2) the government's record on aid use is not bad/pretty good/has satisfied donors.

On sovereignty, and sorry if I sound 101ish ... Institutions are usually accountable to their funders. A democratic government is accountable to its taxpayers. A government dependent on donors for 40% of its budget is partially accountable to donors.

Donors have the responsibility to hold the Ethiopian government accountable, or, in other words, impede its sovereignty, because donors, by virtue of their aid, are de facto citizens of Ethiopia.

If the government doesn't want that, then it can decline aid and handle its debts.

On the government's record with aid ... Yes, Ethiopia has received less aid per capita than the sub-Saharan average, but it has had much higher debts forgiven. Aid = debt forgiveness. So Ethiopia has received much more than its fair share.

What's the result? On the big variables, it's a bust. According to the IMF, aid per capita growing 1.1% a year, crop yields 0.4% a year, and no change in poverty levels since 1992. In addition, population growth of around 2.5-3% annually has remained unchanged, plot sizes have shrunk to tiny levels, there is massive environmental degradation because of erosion and deforestation.

On other variables, such as electification, primary schooling, health coverage, there have been improvements. But these variables are only important insofar as they either increase income or decrease poverty, or both. But neither - now that's really poor performance.

So what we're asking donors is that as long as you're willing to throw larger and larger sums of money at Ethiopia, why don't you try something different? Why don't you use the money to empower citizens and civil society? Or really push the EPRDF to make one or two concessions?

3:02 PM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous Yohannes said...

There is a very common misunderstanding in Anonymous' argument: that debt cancellation is one of the shinning glories of the Ethiopian government. Besides exhibiting fiduciary recklessness and setting a bad example for the populace (does the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia cancel debts to patrons who come in with Bono?), it gives the country a bad credit rating. That might not matter to this government- it can always pack up and leave- but it does affect the next generation, as Zegabi pointed out. Short term, however, that the government can actually use it as a talking point (as I have seen it doing) illustrates its mindset. It’s very regressive.

I think the question of sovereignty has been answered.

Yes, NGOs waste money. It's in their bylaws. But your argument has to be more than “everybody is doing it." If your point was more than that, it was too subtle for me. Surely you don’t think that the government wasting money and an NGO wasting money cancels each other.

You might have also missed the point about accountants and ITs. You were very eloquent about how IT helps, although I am not sold on its ability to stem corruption. We are not saying IT does not help (I hope you knew that.) The point of the sarcasm was, at least how I took it, after long letters between Diwan and ECAC on Ethiomedia about accountability, the first component is to hire accountants and IT personnel for the federal government, and fund the Federal Audit office to bring about "urgent" capacity strengthening? Do you see the absurdity of it?

Not my place to defend Kezira, Not Anon etc, but, Anonymous, you kind of stepped into that one. I don’t know how long you have been a Weichegud reader, but “so i feel you are really wasting your emotional and other capital on wrong constituency” (and that whole paragraph) is inviting snark. It goes to moral judgment and the only way to respond to that is…….. well, you read it. And I love it.

Cheru amlak yitebiqen.

5:01 PM, June 01, 2006  
Blogger zegabi said...

Mr. Anonymous,

A quick response to your comments to me-

1 - Yes, we want our leaders to be accountable to their own people first and foremost. Giving a bully more money is the worst way to induce accountability. If your argument is that Meles is not a bully but a “beloved” or hell, even a slightly accountable leader, then you don't need me or anyone else to convince you of anything.

2 - People send remittances to help their relatives. Now it is up to the policy making body to enable businesses and industry to flourish so that the money stays circulating in the economy being invested and reinvested. If we produced what we consumed, then - walla! – we might actually start growing. And then whoever is at the helm of power might actually have to be accountable. Big surprise huh then that growth is out of the question? A working strategy for Meles it appears is to just go on begging, keep the people poor and get the Aid money in your own pockets.

3 – Finally some we can agree on…If Meles hadn't supervised the ‘campaign to poorness’ so well, we wouldn't have been part of the first group to have gotten the debt written off (atleast promised to have it written off). So by your own logic - Excellent work Ato Meles!

And by the way, despite what you thing, it is not Meles’s negotiating skills that got the loans cancelled (or got the promise to cancel). The primary reason for the promise is the abject poverty in the country that won’t go away despite the money it is taking in. When you can no longer payoff your debt, someone else has to carry the burden because the banks ultimately have to be paid. The west is promising to step in. A few years back there was a rescheduling of debt from the Paris Club (not a cancellation) so that Ethiopia and others could be able to take on more loans. If the promise materializes and the loans actually get cancelled, then great, but as Yohannes points out it comes at a great cost. It is not going to be the case that Ethiopia and Ethiopians will be home free. Maybe the catch would be that you will have to sign away any remaining sovereignty (what ever is left) for generations. We shall see. You can choose to thank Meles for that if you wish.

5:41 PM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous Inde Hewan said...

ETW: All I can say is: Exsqueeze-it!

Le Action Corner: On the one hand, I don't really want anyone else to steal the show from Diwan's Bank. But on the other hand: Lift that heavy skirt of the Grand Madame, and you'll find huddled a clutch of other donors, with fistful of pounds, euros, etc. ready to be dropped into the PBS honeypot. Most of them being bilateral donors (i.e. attached to one country, e.g. CIDA in Canada, DfID in the UK, etc.), they are likely to be more susceptible to taxpayer pressure to pull out from the PBS deal. This is unlike multilateral institutions like the World Bank, African Development Bank, which are more indirectly linked to taxpayers, via their board of directors, which represent one or several countries each.

With some countries it is close to a done deal (UK). With others, negotiations are still underway whether they will pitch in or not. So: Keep the heat on. Y'all Euro and Canada residents: Please do some investigating and find out what your donor agency is up to on "Practically" (to use the recently christened child's first name). It can be as simple as calling the donor agency, asking for the East Africa or Ethiopia project officer (or whatever the particular agency's position jargon is), and asking them point-blank whether they have agreed to line up their duck$ behind "Practically" (By the way, each child in Ethiopia gets also a nickname. Parents, what do you think of "Practically B.S."? ). Then ask them how much they will plug in. Which of the four components do these duck$ go into? Etc. We at EACA would be very interested in hearing what you learned, email us at eacadvocacy AT gmail DOT com.

6:17 PM, June 01, 2006  
Anonymous Sintayehu G. said...

Wonquette:

I am sure this makes me one of the yaysayers, but wanted to thank you. So enjoyed your blogs, but never took time to write.

Taking Ende Hewan's call, a few of us have formed an adhoc group to follow up on HR4423. We have the EACA following up with the World Bank. We need their kind of people to do it on the political front. Is there such a group?

4:38 AM, June 02, 2006  
Anonymous Aba Doyo said...

Wonqitu, INDE HEWAN et al
Talking of individual countries lining up to push the aid money thru the World Bank's PBS, here is what Hilary Benn, UK's International Development Secretary said announcing the resumption of aid to Ethioipia on May 26, 2006:
"Because of our concerns over governance, human rights and the ongoing detention of opposition, media and members of civil society, I announced in January that the UK could no longer provide direct budget support to Ethiopia."
"But as I said at the time, I do not believe that the poor people of Ethiopia should be made to suffer because of these political problems."
"The protection of basic services grant that we have developed along with the World Bank and other donors will mean that education, water, and health care, continue to be delivered at the local [government] level. The measures on tight financial reporting, and strengthening local accountability, will help to ensure that this funding reaches the poorest people."


For the statemnt in full read the press release from DFID at http://www2.dfid.gov.uk/news/files/pressreleases/pbs-ethiopia.asp

The same Hilary Benn answering to questions of BBC Online readers about aid to Zimbabwe had said:
"You are right to highlight the terrible situation facing ordinary people in Zimbabwe, where up to two-thirds of the population have needed international food aid and the country's enormous crisis of HIV/Aids leads to over 3,200 deaths per week. DFID has provided over Ј120m of humanitarian assistance to poor people in Zimbabwe during the last five years. A great deal of effort, which we believe has been successful, has gone into ensuring that our assistance reaches the most poor and vulnerable people for whom it is being provided. In doing so, DFID has been working with other donors to channel resources through UN agencies and non-governmental organisations. We will not give any funds directly to government unless things change significantly. Sadly, there's no sign of this happening currently.

For full question & answer click on http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5019522.stm

Hopefully, those of you residing in UK will do all you can do to expose this kind of double talk. The British public has to know their tax money will go NOT thru UN & International NGOs as in Zimbabwe but thru local subsidiaries of the same tyrannical regime in Ethiopia.

2:14 PM, June 02, 2006  
Blogger zegabi said...


related news on debt relief

6:10 PM, June 02, 2006  

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