The aid bind
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
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
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
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
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.