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The aid bind

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's call to donor nations and international aid agencies not to make aid contingent on a recipient country's political outlook or global objectives mirrors the predicament of all developing nations who are caught up in the aid bind.

They are not only compelled to make policy changes on the domestic front but are also lectured and hectored to by these donors on issues such as human rights and religious freedom.

Today aid has been used as bludgeon to make nations fall in line with alien practices and cultures which have nothing to do with economics.

Addressing the Commonwealth Heads of States meeting on Reforms on International Institutions at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London the Lankan leader urged donors to take cognisance of the real situation existing in recipient countries when giving such aid.

The President also said "Multi-national Financial Institutions should channel their aid direct to the recipient nations without providing it through NGOs".

It is true that poor countries have no choice but to depend on international aid for their survival.

It is also true that donors like to monitor how their aid is being utilised. Most of this aid has strings attached to them such as having the contactors of the donor country undertake the projects for which aid is being disbursed.

They might also insist on other commercial returns in the form of monopolies in trade and business.

Of course these can be understood in terms of the security demanded by any money lender.

However today things have gone beyond these mundane requirements where aid now hinges on political ideologies, human rights and other extraneous factors that have placed a heavy onus on the recipient countries.

Of course these ideals are not strictly practised by the donors themselves and it is clear that aid today is brandished as a tool to keep Third World countries conform to the geo-political interests of these donor countries.

Today aid is intertwined with external matters to such a degree that in most instances aid is influenced by the company that is kept by the recipient countries internationally.

It is also no secret that some donor nations plant their agents in recipient countries in the guise of NGOs who act as fifth columnists working to destabilise these countries so that they could have a firmer hold on their economies and their political direction.

Instances are legion where poor countries have been torn asunder by political strife engineered by these agents. Aid has also been used as a tool to change established Government policies and also to influence cultural transformations leading to countries losing their historical identities.

The aid bludgeon is also frequently used to interfere in domestic politics and effect policy changes that are in harmony with those of donor nations. There are also frequent allegations of aid being linked to unethical conversions that are sweeping many continents.

There can be no denying the massive benefits garnered through foreign aid to Sri Lanka over the years without which we would have been lagging behind many countries by now. Equally there had also been a negative fallout from this largesse both on the economic and social front.

It is also being used to stifle our freedom of action.

This is chiefly seen in connection with the on going war effort of the Government where various restrictions are sought to be placed to weaken the military thrust.

What is needed is a fair assessment of the conditions in a recipient country before strictures are delivered.

This not only impinges on the sovereignty of a country but also reduces it to the level of a supplicant which is not an ideal state of affairs to strengthen bilateral ties and economic cooperation.

Now that the President had taken the bull by the horns it would be interesting to see the response this will elicit from other nations who are hemmed in by this phenomenon of internal meddling through the agency of economic aid.

Clarion call for urgent action on food crisis

The proceedings, deliberations and the outcomes of the food conference, will undoubtedly have far-reaching repercussions on the lives of a vast multitude of the people right round the globe. Over and above the general impact that the Summit will register on the global community has a distinct significance for us here in Sri Lanka. It is primarily because, President Mahinda Rajapaksa was among the world leaders who participated in the Food Summit.

Full Story

Helping the enemy

While the GoSL is going ahead with eliminating terrorism from this country, opposition politicians are now planning and expediting general strikes and "Kahala Nada" campaigns.

Full Story

Forces knocking on the gates of Tigers' last bastion

Mullaitivu terrain witnessing decisive battles in Wanni liberation:

The thick jungle terrain in Mullaitivu was the breeding grounds for LTTE cadres as these provided a safer haven for their terror activities and to train thousands of Tiger cadres unknown to the outside world. Even Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had chosen this thick jungle area as one of his hideouts during many phases of the Eelam War.

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