Tens of millions in foreign aid wasted on salaries and commissions
The welfare "industry" again. As Peter Bauer said long ago, foreign aid is a scheme for transferring money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. These days, it looks like rich people in rich countries are getting a big slice of it too
AUSTRALIA'S foreign aid program is under siege after revelations tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on huge salaries for consultants and rich contracts for private firms. An extensive investigation has uncovered a lucrative foreign aid "industry", raising questions about the Rudd Government's decision to double annual spending to more than $8 billion.
And a high-level review has slammed the $414 million program in Papua New Guinea, claiming $100 million is being paid to a handful of firms – but delivering little.
Aid experts also have questioned the size of contracts paid to "briefcase" advisers who fly in to poor countries, including East Timor, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Tonga. The Courier-Mail's extensive investigation can reveal:
• A small clutch of five firms have secured $1 billion in contracts.
• More than a dozen aid consultants are earning more than Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, flying around the Pacific to advise on everything from "gender integration" to sport, transport, energy and justice.
• Millions of dollars are being diverted to aid programs including $12 million to research the giant panda in China and $13 million to redevelop a single school in Nauru.
• AusAID, the agency in charge of foreign aid, is investigating allegations of fraud – and is about to undergo a significant restructuring.
• And millions of dollars are being spent by the AFL, Girl Guides, ACTU and other community groups "selling" a pro-aid message to the public.
The review is embarrassing for the Government – and raises serious questions about the value of pumping billions of dollars into fragile states.
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