Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mental As Anything: Paris Principles

I was checking out one of my favourite sites, Aid Thoughts, and it brought to mind the dreaded Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. This Pandora's Box of turd-flavoured truffles ostensibly defines the responsibility of developed and developing countries for delivering and managing aid along five core principles:

1.Ownership: Partner countries exercise effective leadership over their development policies, and strategies and co-ordinate development actions
2.Alignment: Donors base their overall support on partner countries' national development strategies, institutions and procedures
3.Harmonisation: Donors' actions are more harmonized, transparent and collectively effective
4.Managing for Results: Managing resources and improving decision-making for results
5.Mutual Accountability: Donors and partners are accountable for development results

As with all of these international instruments, it is stupendously garbled and repetitive, but the purpose of this little ruse appears to be a laudable (and some would argue misplaced) desire to empower recipient countries with determining their own policy direction, development strategies, and related priorities.

Yeah right. This really looks like the wool being pulled over the sheep's eyes! And in development settings, boy oh boy has this been aggressively 'mainstreamed' up the tailpipe of UN agencies and donors! Think 'Rocco Does Paris' and you get the idea.

But, let's reflect just for a moment on a couple of committments explictly agreed to in this document:

"Avoid, to the maximum extent possible, creating dedicated structures for day-to-day management and implementation of aid-financed projects and programmes."

...This means avoid NGO/UN/IO-managed projects, and park your programmes under Government- managed structures. Yes, the very same structures riddled with coruption, gross inertia, and absurdly incompetent bureaucrats not in the least bit interested in equitable development, equal opportunity, integrity and all the other other values that kind of matter in the aid/development sector.

"Rely to the maximum extent possible on transparent partner government budget and accounting mechanisms."

...This means that despite the completely erratic capacities of the Government's financial staff, the long history of collusive practices, the daily malfeasance of public officials - you should trust them to manage these taxpayer funds.

"Progressively rely on partner country systems for procurement when the country has implemented mutually agreed standards and processes."

...Yes, ask that hideous group of people known only for their spectacular rorting and self-enrichment to do your procurement, again with taxpayer funds.

This is not mental at all.

Next topic: Battered Donor Syndrome.

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