Sukarno: to hell with your aid!

So at a public meeting in Djakarta on March 2, where more than 2,000 people had gathered, President Sukarno pointed at Ambassador Howard P. Jones and said the now legendary words:

‘I say go to hell with your aid!!”

So US$50 billion for Africa. Fifty thousand million dollars. That’s a lot of money. But I wonder how much will go to those who actually need it? This article by fellow blogger Aangirfan suggests not much - Western governments are often complicit in corruption when it comes to handing out the cash in Africa. Oh well, Mercedes should see their sales rise handsomely, and so will British arms manufacturers no doubt. And foreign aid workers will naturally command huge salaries as they drive around Africa in their expensive four-by-four vehicles (just ask East Timor about that!).

Noted Kenyan economist James Shikwati isn’t too happy though. According to him:

The huge bureaucracies (in Africa) are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, and Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa's problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn't even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

And South African economist Mandla Maleka is also upset:

Writing off Africa's debt is almost synonymous with perversely encouraging inefficiency. It would support perpetual extensions of maladministration.

Swedish economist Fredrik Erixon is also deeply concerned by the decision to boost aid without addressing the root causes of poverty:

According to him:

Countries are not poor because they lack roads, schools or health clinics. They lack these things because they are poor – and they are poor because they lack the institutions of the free society, which create the underlying conditions for economic development.

His study Aid and development: Will it work this time? is essential reading. The PDF file can be downloaded here.


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