Effective utilisation of foreign aid urged

Kathmandu, October 31:

Experts today raised serious concerns over the architecture, politics and effectiveness of the foreign aid at a regional seminar organised by the Reality of Aid Network and Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Federation.

The third day of discussion among donor agencies, government and civil society organisation (CSOs) highlighted issues like conditionalities linked to foreign aid, loans, roles of CSOs and their effectiveness in the implementation of the aid.

“We have tried to make the interim plan a participatory one,” Dr Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, the vice-chairman of National Planning Commission, the government think-tank, said adding that Nepal needs a social movement for the transformation. “Only aid will not develop Nepal. There is an urgent need to monitor it by the civil societies,” he added.

“But who are the civil societies,” asked Lucky Sherpa, a representative of indigenous society. “Who are the beneficiaries and can they claim their ownership,” she asked.

However, experts were of the view that donor agencies like World Bank and IMF are — in the name of giving aid — dictating the policies of the recipient country. “It is a threat to the sovereignty of a nation,” they said.

On the occasion, Dr Arjun Karki, chairman of the NGO Federation, said that aid provided by the donor agencies has not been utilised properly. On one hand rich countries are not meeting their commitment of providing 0.7 per cent of their GNI as Official Development Assistance and on other they have provided billions in aid till date which has not brought any qualitative improvement.

Poor countries like Nepal are profitable ground for international investors and creditors. In 2005, donor country members of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development assistance committee, developing countries and multilateral institutions signed the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

However, Paris Declaration and its five principles — ownership, alignment, harmonisation, managing for results, mutual accountability — have been neglected by the donors. “Paris Declaration is a key for developing nations,” said Dipendra Chhetri, a member of the NPC.

The seminar will work out a strategy to exert pressure to implement Paris Declaration and form the basis for a civil society position paper for the high level forum on Aid Effectiveness, to be held in Accra, Ghana in 2008.

Antonio Tujan, Jr, chairperson of Reality of Aid Network, Eiichi Sadamatsu of Association of International NGOs in Nepal, Brian Tomlinson, member of Advisory Group on Civil Society and Aid Effectiveness also spoke at the seminar, where 100 participants from Palestine, Iraq, Le-banon, Egypt and states from South Asia, donor agencies, government, civil society members, INGOs, NGOs are taking part.