Irish state aid going to some of most corrupt countries in the world

THE European Commission’s refusal this week to give Bulgaria and Romania its blessing to join the EU over corruption concerns once again highlights the growing consensus that no economy can prosper unless the cancer of corruption is first eliminated.

Yet our Government refuses to acknowledge the impediment which corruption poses in Ireland’s aid programmes by continuing to channel millions of aid in budgetary support to some of the most corrupt countries in the world.

The notoriously corrupt Ugandan government, for example, netted €9 million in 2004 alone. Worrying, too, is that Irish officials make substantial payments through local government structures even when gross violations of human rights are common in that country.

Our Government’s assertions that aid provided to local government structures is not under its control are designed to mislead the public.

Interestingly, news of the European Commission’s stance on Bulgaria and Romania came in the same week as the World Bank’s top governance experts criticised donors for remaining in denial about their own problems with graft. Anti-corruption plans being drafted by the bank will fail unless they can win broad support in a global development community, according to the bank’s frontman, Paul Wolfowitz.

World Bank research has found that up to 40% of private sector companies surveyed worldwide admitted to paying bribes to win government contracts.

Given those figures, Mr Wolfowitz pointed out that it was statistically impossible for corruption not to affect more aid-funded development projects than was currently admitted by donors.

John O’Shea

GOAL

PO Box 19

Dun Laoghaire

Co Dublin

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