If the indifference of ordinary Liberians is because of limited information on this issue, however, why are prominent Liberians, including those who claim to be former experts with the WB/IMF tight-lipped? Most importantly why are representatives of the WB and IMF also conspicuously silent since they should have more information? They along with representatives of the United Nations and US government and other donor partners, conducted an in-depth evaluation of Liberia's reconstruction needs in December 2003. Their assessments outlay $520 million dollars as necessary seed money. They also allocated $440 million dollars for reconstruction and $80 million dollars for emergency relief, as reported by John Tucker, deputy director of UNCDF, Microfinance Unit of the United Nations in a report dated March 22-31 of 2004.
WB/IMF’S EXPERIENCE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
The misuse of this amount should have attracted the attention of these technocrats of the WB/IMF immediately for several reasons, primary among them, the fact that these institutions serve as fiduciaries of the allocated amount in question, and given their collective years of experience in this kind of matter. But $359 million of good will has been expended or should I say has dissipated without any result or impact on the broken lives and infrastructure development it was intended for. Liberia or Monrovia to begin with still lacks public services such as electricity or pipe-borne water or the rehabilitation of infrastructures as well as a network of roads. The reporter for the Vanguard, a weekly newspaper in Monrovia, Liberia stated that on February 19, 2005 at a press conference the Deputy Secretary General Special Representative, Abou Moussa did not give any detail of how the $359 million dollars has been spent. In addition Jack Klein, the former UN Secretary General’s Special representative to Liberia, who could have been resourceful in this area, was conspicuously absent from the press conference.
Sadly, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) too, which takes credit for a pivotal role in raising the $520 million dollars, has provided inadequate and less information on electricity, water, road and building, etc., much to the dismay of the concerned public. In a June 15, 2005 Press Release carried by its own Web Site, the UNDP gave a scanty report when it attached monetary value to some projects but did not assign dollar value to others. In addition, the Press Release stated that the UNDP has focused on only six of the 13 priority sectors such as 1) Community based reintegration and recovery, 2) Capacity building for governance, 3) Promoting human rights awareness, 4) Responding to HIV/AIDS, 5) Protecting the environment, and 6) Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration.
Dishearteningly, the “Liberian Governance Economic Action Plan” which focuses on curbing corruption has no information on the expenditure of the $359 million dollars as a launching pad which could very well bolster their relevance. The Plan also falls short of indicating how representatives of the WB and IMF supervised the allocation of the funds. It is inconceivable how these experts on corruption and good governance, experts who worked hard to raise such an amount in the first place, could now become conspicuously silent and reluctant to care about how the Bryant Administration dispense it.
NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS’ OVERCHARGED COSTS
If black holing $359 million dollars is business
as usual, then Liberia has just been added to the
list of victims of developing countries whose donors’
funds raised by the UN end up being siphoned by corporations.
Many critics of the WB and IMF are in agreement that
the UN has become a cash cow for private aid groups.
Other developing countries including Iraq and Afghanistan
preceded Liberia for example. In fact according to
the March 31, 2005 report of Integrated Regional informational
News Networks, the Afghan Ministry of Finance indicated
that of the $9.1 billion that had been committed out
of $13.4 billion pledged at the 2002 Tokyo conference,
as well as the 2004 Berlin donor conference on Afghanistan,
only $3.9 billion had been physically disbursed to
the country. Representatives of Non Governmental Organizations
(NGO's) in Afghanistan did not refute the Ministry
of Finance's assertion that NGO's are part of the
problems. In fact they have adopted a new Code of
Conduct and have accused regular corporations called
"private aid groups" (profiteers) for impostoring
Regular corporations using fake identities, as NGO'S is not new stated Mr. Arundhati Roy, in the November 2004 edition of Le Monde Diplomatique. He added that some fake NGOs are set up either to siphon off grant money or as tax dodges. Worst the WB and IMF indirectly finance most wealthy profiteers, Mr. Roy stated.
WORLD BANK’S INTERST IN NGO’S/PRIVATE AID GROUPS
Some experts have conducted studies to support their allegations that the WB is profiting from developing countries by setting up private aid groups. For example, Bretton Woods Projects evaluated the relationship between WB and Gateway, a corporation initiated and owned by the World Bank according to a research dated September 22, 2004. Gateway was created to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction through knowledge and resource sharing. The researchers, Jha, Seymour and Sins, stated that Gateway overcharged its clients. For example, while its competitors such as OneWorld, Elids, and Choike charged their clients at a minimal price of $4.6 million, $0.9 million, and $0.4 million respectively, Gateway overcharged its clients at an exuberant price of $23.4 million for the same services and during the same period.
The researchers also added that the WB and Gateway interchangeably used the same employees. Six of the twenty board members were current WB employees, while another two were former employees. A $6 million a year service agreement for providing operating staff and services to the Gateway was won by the WB - apparently without competitive bidding.
So if the World Bank makes significant profits in developing countries, including the $43 billion dollar profit made for investing $5 billion dollars in Nigeria (NY Times10/01/04), and if the World Bank is in the business of creating NGO’s that overcharged developing countries, should war-weary Liberians rely on the WB to find out who squandered the $359 million dollars?