Holbrooke promises transparency in US aid to Pakistan

Last Updated: Friday, June 18, 2010 - 14:57

Washington: US Special Representative for
Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke has promised
"accountability" and "transparency" in America`s civilian aid
to Pakistan, a fortnight after a top Senator had expressed
serious concern that the funds might end up in bank accounts
of corrupt politicians and officials of the country.

In a letter to Chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee Senator John Kerry, Holbrooke said the
State Department and the USAID are taking several measures to
improve accountability, including requiring separate bank
accounts for US assistance and placing US-hired accountants
inside ministries.

Pledging more transparency as the money starts to
flow, Holbrooke in his letter dated June 14 said: "We are
beginning to communicate our plans to the [Government of
Pakistan] and the Pakistani people.

"Your suggestion of providing more information about
our efforts on the Internet is a good one, and we plan on
putting more information on the USAID and embassy websites as
our plans become more concrete."

Holbrook`s letter to Kerry is in response to the
strong-worded letter written by the Senator last month in
which he apprehended that the massive civilian aid flowing
into Pakistan would be squandered or stolen and argues that
the high level of corruption in Pakistan would make effective
aid distribution a challenge.

"Among the Pakistani population there is already a
fear that the funds will merely enrich the corrupt elite.
Channeling so much of the money through untested institutions
so quickly could serve to confirm these suspicions," Kerry
wrote.

"If significant portion of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman
funds are, for example, siphoned off to private bank accounts,
political support for continued appropriation of the money
could evaporate in Washington and Pakistan," he said.

"We agree completely," Holbrooke said in his response
to Kerry`s letter.

In his four-page letter, Holbrooke, confirms that
half of the USD 1.45 billion in aid to Pakistan in 2010 will
be channeled through Pakistani federal and provincial
agencies, 13 percent of which will go to direct budget
support.

"We also have established USAID and State Inspector
General Offices in Islamabad, and are asking them to lend
their expertise in the project design phase to help develop
better mechanisms to guard against waste and fraud," Holbrooke
said.

"We believe that, with such oversight, aid channeled
through the government is at least as accountable as aid
through under-supervised contracts - which was often the norm
in the past," he said.

PTI



First Published: Friday, June 18, 2010 - 14:57

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