Mo­ham­mad Ali, Islamabad.

Enterprise - - Letters -

Who is ac­count­able?

The world is still reel­ing from the shock of the Panama leaks, which have re­vealed the enor­mous scale of the cor­rup­tion and tax-dodg­ing prob­lem fac­ing the world. Mul­ti­lat­eral de­vel­op­ment agen­cies like the IMF and the World Bank have been quick to ad­mit the need to ad­dress these prob­lems and have stressed the need to pre­vent tax flows and the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of ill-got­ten wealth within de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in par­tic­u­lar, in or­der to ad­dress lin­ger­ing prob­lems of wide­spread poverty and lack­lus­tre growth. The need to im­prove ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency are ev­i­dent mea­sures, which can help pre­vent the sorts of prob­lems high­lighted by the Panama leaks, yet many mul­ti­lat­eral and bi­lat­eral aid agen­cies them­selves need to put their own houses in or­der as well. While the World Bank em­pha­sises trans­parency within de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, it is not a very ac­count­able in­sti­tu­tion it­self, given its lop­sided governance struc­tures, which re­main dom­i­nated by pow­er­ful coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly the U.S. Nor is the World Bank very ac­count­able when its pol­icy pre­scrip­tions of in­sti­gat­ing growth or al­le­vi­at­ing poverty go sour. For­eign aid pro­vided by bi­lat­eral aid agen­cies is also quite prob­lem­atic. Ma­jor bi­lat­eral donors, in­clud­ing Euro­pean coun­tries and the U.S. do not al­ways pro­vide aid to the de­vel­op­ing world on the ba­sis of need. In fact, if need were the ba­sis for qual­i­fy­ing for aid, it would be the poor­est coun­tries in the world which would be re­cip­i­ents of most of the aid. Aid statis­tics re­peat­edly show that this is not the case. In­stead, in­ter­na­tional aid con­tin­ues to be used as a le­git­i­mate tool to ex­ert influence over much of the de­vel­op­ing world.

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