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August 10, 2020

Pakistan got $1.8 bn under KLB law, $2.3 bn went back

National

August 10, 2020

ISLAMABAD: US disbursed only $1.8 billion in Pakistan on the ground under Kerry Lugar Berman (KLB) law and remaining over $3.2 billion went back to Washington DC at source through contractors, foreign consultants and other means.

Former US diplomat Robin Raphel, who had served several times in Pakistan for USAID, said disbursement data was released in complex manner on different website that became impossible to bring together disbursement amounts from USA.

She predicted that aid money would be decreased probably in future but less amounts with effective implementation could deliver goods at gross roots level. It was the crux of the discussions held during a webinar organized by PIDE titled foreign aid here on Saturday.

US former diplomat and former USAID head in Pakistan Robin Raphel, expert on foreign aid Hussain Nadim, VC PIDE Dr Nadeem Ul Haq and other participated. It was told during the online seminar that there were over 500 development projects with average portfolio size of $500,000 under KLB assistance that was supposed to execute by USAID in Pakistan. Another research was cited that 500 missions of donors visiting Pakistan every year so every day two donors missions were holding meeting with Minister for Finance.

Robin Raphel, who possessed a lot of experience for working in Pakistan, said the US Congress had authorized the administration to utilize $7.5 billion under KLB law for five years period in 2009-10.

She conceded that foreign aid is political phenomena and donors want to enhance their influence and improve this perception that they do care about people of the recipient country. “Our intentions were good but there were challenges on implementation front,” she said and added that there was always challenge to harmonize priorities.

There was debate going on that the aid should be visible but there were someone who wanted to execute capacity building projects. She said the US Congress had always pressurized to execute health and education related projects. USAID, she said, had tried to maintain balance but the State Department remained in between among all different approaches. There were differences for execution through NGOs or public sector in Pakistan, she said and added then the role of contractors came who possessed a lot of influence in US Congress.

In Pakistan, she said expectations were high so people remained dissatisfied with the aid money. The absorption capacity was too low and they could not finalize their own prioritize, she maintained. All together, she said, had put a lot of challenges. She said the USAID staff executing development projects was less and contractors had turned into huge business possessing a lot of influence.

Aid expert Husain Nadim said the military side possessed good absorption capacity as 85 percent aid for military purposes were utilized effectively but civilian side could not ensure utilization of funds effectively. He said that without civil service and governance reforms, Pakistan’s development problems could not be fixed.

Dr Nadeem Ul Haq said that it became fashionable approach for blaming army for every wrong thing but we as nation failed to bring our institutions at par with the changing world. He criticized technical assistance and capacity building projects and stated that foreign consultants without knowing Pakistan were suggesting to fix our problems. There is no appetite for research in decision making so failed to fix our problems, he added.