Myth of USAID

THE US-Aid to Pakistan has become subject of heated discussions these days not because of any concerns, reservations or observations by the recipient but findings of the audit carried by Americans themselves. The audit report pinpoints that just half of the committed $7.5 billion aid has actually been disbursed and that a significant portion of the aid i.e. 13% has gone to overhead expenses. It also claimed that the aid was used for non-significant programmes and projects on the basis of recommendations of the State Department and not as per development needs of the country or plans of the US-AID that favoured long-term and visible projects.
One can hardly dispute the fact that unlike many other countries the United States has been providing grant aid to Pakistan but questions about actual disbursement and physical impact of the assistance remain unanswered. It is unfortunate that despite claims about pouring of billions of dollars into Pakistan in military and economic aid, there is not much that can be proudly related to the United States on the ground. This is because of low and much delayed disbursements as well as the modus operandi of the use of the money announced for such aid, which, among other things, is tightly attached with both visible and invisible strings. Insiders say the USAID and private contractors spend more than 70 percent of the funds allocated for socio-economic development on their own support infrastructure in the recipient country. Half of the money never leaves the company accounts in the USA. This is truer of the assistance offered under Kerry-Lugar Bill, which the United States decided to spend through NGOs, whose credentials were dubious and they spent more on themselves than on ground. The United States rejected repeated suggestions by Pakistan to route the aid through Pakistan Government, which has in place necessary agencies and paraphernalia for execution of development projects, thereby reducing the overhead costs. Again, instead of spending the assistance as per needs of people of Pakistan, US spent most of the amount on PR-type programmes and their publicity, which afforded opportunity to thousands of people to have excursion trips to US but contributed almost nothing to socio-economic development. Assistance pledged under Kerry-Lugar programme was enough to finance most of motorways that Pakistan is constructing or intends to construct but funds have been squandered on petty things.

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