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Monday, 25 May 2009

Why Are We Still Poor?

Why Are We Still Poor?

ActionAid är en religiöst och partipolitiskt oberoende organisation som arbetar för att bekämpa fattigdom.

Look at the woman in the above picture and her surrounding carefully. Does she look like someone who has been given help by Aid Agencies like United  States Agency for International Development (USAID), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Swedish International Developmet Agency (SIDA), Oxfam, Action Aid, Christian Aid, Advenstist Development and Relief Agency (DRA)? Does she look like someone whose government has received billions of dollars in loans from the World Bank or the IMF? Does she look like someone who has received financial or material help from US, Japan, Germany, Britain, France or Italy? Does she look like someone whose government receives billions of dollars in revenue from gold, oil, gas, coltan, diamond, timber, cocoa, cotton, tea, coffee, bauxite and uranium every year? What has happened to all the aid money or the IMF and World Bank loans or aid and grants from US, Japan, European Union and the revenue from the natural resources? In short why are the people so poor when Aid Agencies are helping them every day; when the world Bank and IMF give them loans every day; and US, Japan, Britain, Germany and others give aid and grants to the people every year? Who has benefited from all these monies? Could it be the donors and aid agencies themselves or the politicians who sometimes receive the money on behalf of the people? 

Why are we poor? This is a troubling question. I cannot understand why after so many years of aid and big loans Africa still sits at the bottom of the world's progressive continents. There are so many Aid and Humanitarian Agencies in Africa claiming to be helping the people to alleviate poverty but fifty years on Africans still wallow in object poverty. Why? Could it be that the Aid Agencies are not doing any work? Could it be that the Aid Agencies only cry for attention without necessarily doing anything to help the poor? Or could it be that the aid agencies use the plight of the people to raise money and then use the money to pay their staff fat salaries and bonuses and hold big parties without necessarily using the money to help the poor?

The World Bank and IMF claim to provide vital financial support to poor countries to help them alleviate poverty but more than fifty years of loans to these poor countries poverty is still decimating them. So what happened to all the billions of dollars that the World Bank and IMF claim to have provided to the world's poor? Could it be that the Bank and IMF give the loans and then turn round to force these poor countries to use it to service old debts? Could it be that the Bank and IMF give the loans to corrupt regimes who then deposit the money in their private banks in Europe and then ask the poor people who never benefited from the loans to use the little resources they have to service the debts? Could it be that the loans are given with conditions that benefit the creditors and not the countries who borrow the money? Can the World Bank and IMF explain to the World why so many poor countries remain poor after they had received tens of billions of dollars from them?

Every year United States, Japan, the European Union, Germany, Britain, France and Italy claim to give millions of dollars to the poor countries in the form of loans, grants and what have you. But we still have not seen poverty going down or stabilising. What has been happening to the aid money that US, Japan and Europe claim to have been given to third world countries? Who receives those monies and what do they use the money for? How has the ordinary people benefited from the grants and aid? If so much has been received then so much should have been done to reduce poverty isn't it?

Every year African countries receive tens of billions of dollars from the sale of oil, gas, diamond, gold, bauxite, coltan, timber, cocoa, tea, coffee, cotton and many others. What has happen to all the money? Could it be that the money has been wasted on white elephant projects? Could it be that the money is stolen out right by corrupt politicians, the business elite and their cronies in Africa? If so could it be that Switzerland, France, Britain may be having a clue as to what has happened to all the money? I mention Switzerland and Britain because their banks have had direct link with all the corrupt regimes that Africa has ever produced from Mobutu, Sani Abacha, Lansana Conte, Eduardo dos Santos, Bakili Muluzi, Paul Biya and Blaise Campore to Ibrahim Babangida. I mentioned France because Omar Bongo of Gabon and his family have are known to have 70 banks accounts plus 59 luxury properties and 8 luxury cars in France alone and Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo and his family also have 122 bank accounts, 24 luxury properties and a number of luxury cars in France alone not to mention those in Switzerland and other save haven centres. It is only God who knows how much money is contained in 70 and 122 accounts.

How do multinational corporations doing business in Africa pay for the resources that they exploit? And who receive the money they pay? Do multinational corporations declare all the profits they make in the African countries where they operate or they declare just a little and then hide the rest in their save haven accounts in Switzerland, Jersey Island, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Austria, Hong Kong, Singapore, Caymans Island and the rest? And how does that deny the poor people the chance to escape poverty? 

If indeed the Aid Agencies, World Bank, IMF, US, Japan, European Union, Britain, Germany, France have given so much then why are we poor? Is it lack of luck or what? I really don't know can someone please help me?

 By Lord Aikins Adusei

The Author is a Political Activist and Anti-Corruption Campaigner



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