Monday, September 18, 2006

From each according to their inability... each according to their greed. Say critics of Paul Wolfowitz's World Bank:

At a meeting of the members of the World Bank in Singapore today, politicians from dozens of countries will discuss whether they are for corruption or against it. A surprisingly large number will be for it. Not that they will be asking for bribes themselves, you understand: these are men and women of the highest integrity. Rather, they will say that if aid to the Third World sometimes means taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries, then the World Bank should stop being so agitated about it.

.... When copies of the bills of the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, showed that he had spent £169,000 on putting up himself, his butler, his personal photographer, hairdresser and about 50 other members of his entourage at the marble-clad Palace Hotel in Madison Avenue, New York, Wolfowitz listened to the anti-corruption groups which said that oil wealth was benefiting the elite rather than the 70 per cent of the population who live on less than £1.15 a day. When he wasn't satisfied with the audits of the state oil company, he suspended debt relief.

He has also suspended hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to India, Bangladesh and Ethiopia and taken a hard look at the cautionary tale of Chad. In the late Nineties, optimists claimed the destitute sub-Saharan state could provide a model for the poor world when the World Bank agreed to fund a new oil pipeline on condition that the Chadian government agreed to spend revenues on health and education. The local dictator reneged on the terms, so Wolfowitz suspended aid.

To which, many are apparently saying, fuggeddaboutit!:

Members of the World Bank's board have told the New York Times that he was 'over-emphasising' corruption while the French are complaining that he is using it as an excuse to cut budgets.

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