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Friday, May 29, 2009

Why Are We Still Poor?

By Lord Aikins Adusei

Look at the woman in the photograph on the left 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 Development Agency (SIDA), Oxfam, Action Aid, Christian Aid, World Vision, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and JICA?
Does she look like someone whose government has received billions of dollars in loans and grants 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? Does she look like someone whose country has political and economic sovereignty or independence? And finally does she look like someone who has been liberated from colonialism?

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? Could it be that nothing at all is received?

Why are we still 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.

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 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 and illegitimate debts?

Private banks

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 odious debts? Could it be that the policies and solutions often prescribed by the Bank and IMF are toxic to the economies of these poor countries? Could it be that the loans are used to pay the so called technical experts that the Bank and IMF often send to the poor countries as advisers?

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?

How do multinational corporations doing business in Africa pay for the resources that they exploit? Do they pay the governments with arms and military machines for use to oppress the people? Shell has been sued in the US for complicity in the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other environmentalist in Nigeria. Could it be that such complicities by multinational corporations, IMF, World Bank and Western governments are the result of the chronic poverty in the resource rich countries of Africa?

Who has received the money the multinational corporations pay? Or they don´t pay anything at all because they often pay bribes to politicians to look elsewhere why they plunder the resources, destroy and pollute the environment, rivers, wells, creeks, soil, lakes and fish stocks which are the livelihoods of most communities in mining and oil exploitation areas? Could it be that the destruction of their livelihoods by the multinationals are the result f the poverty and malnutrition we see in the continent?

Do multinational corporations declare all the profits they make in the African countries where they operate or they declare just pay a little and then hide the rest in their save haven accounts in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Austria, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jersey and Caymans Island and the rest? And what role have they played to reduce poverty in the areas that they operate? How much of the billions of dollars of profits that Shell, BP, Chevron and Total make in Nigeria, Gabon, Angola, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea is used to correct the lasting environmental damage done to the communities where the resources are extracted? Is there anything called corporate social responsibility and how has the poor in Africa benefited from such responsibility?

Every year African leaders 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? If so could it be that Switzerland, France, Britain may be having a clue as to what has happened to all the money?

I have mentioned Switzerland and Britain because their banks have had direct links 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. Switzerland has so far returned $1.6-billions dollars to the poor countries where it was stolen, could it be that Switzerland and Britain are still hiding billions of dollars that could be used to improve the lives of Africans?

I mentioned France because Omar Bongo of Gabon and his family 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. Could it be that the money meant for the development of the people like the woman in the above photograph is sitting in these 200 bank accounts in France? It is only God who knows how much money is contained in 70 and 122 accounts.

Abject poverty

There are so many Aid and Humanitarian Agencies in Africa claiming to be helping the people to alleviate poverty but fifty years on majority Africans still wallow in abject poverty with millions of children being left orphans due to diseases such HIV/AIDS and Ebola. Why?

Could it be that the Aid Agencies are not doing any work and claim to be working? Could it be that the Aid Agencies only cry for attention without necessarily doing anything to help the poor? Or could it be that they use the plight of the people to raise money and then use the money to pay fat salaries and bonuses to their staff and hold big parties without necessarily using the money to help the poor?

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? Why are we still poor despite years of development assistance?

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?

*The Author is a Political Activist and Anti-Corruption Campaigner

IMF, World Bank & Lending Institutions: Agents Promoting Poverty or Development? By Lord Aikins Adusei

According to The World Bank, it is, “a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. We are not a bank in the common sense. We are made up of two unique development institutions owned by 184 member countries—the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). Each institution plays a different but supportive role in our mission of global poverty reduction and the improvement of living standards. The IBRD focuses on middle income and creditworthy poor countries, while IDA focuses on the poorest countries in the world. Together we provide low-interest loans, interest-free credit and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure, communications and many other purposes."

The above statement of claim taken from the World Bank website contains half truth. Yes it is true that in theory the World Bank would like to reduce global poverty but in practice it is the opposite. The fact still remains that both the Bank and the IMF have done very little to help the world´s poor rather their condition has been worsened by the past and present behaviour of the Banks. There is little evidence to back the claim of both institutions that they are a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries. The World Bank may be a vital source of financial assistance to the corrupt regimes in these poor countries and not to the poor. There is no evidence to suggest that the poor people from third world countries have benefited from loans given to their governments. At best what the Bank and IMF have helped the poor countries to do is to build up massive debts that they may never be able to pay.

Third World countries including the whole of Africa have incurred trillions of dollars in debts through loans contracted from the Bank, IMF and Western governments which the people who now wallow in utter poverty, never benefited. Most of these conditional loans were either stolen or used to service debts already owned by these poor countries. Part of the loans were also used to pay foreign expatriates supplied to the poor countries by IMF, World Bank as ´technical experts´ but whose contribution is the result of poverty seen in the third world. Again the loans were used to prop up corrupt regimes who diverted the funds to their private bank accounts in Switzerland, France, Britain, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg and Austria among others.

In 2006 for example, developing countries owed $3.7-trillion in odious debt, servicing more than $570-billion per annum. An analysis by economist James Henry revealed that more than $1-trillion worth of loans "disappeared into corruption-ridden projects or was simply stolen outright". Out of this debt Africa owes $200 billion and uses $14 billion annually to service it, money that could be used to provide education, healthcare other basic needs for  the people. The over $200 billion that African countries owe to foreign creditors represents a crippling load that undermines economic and social progress. The all Africa Churches Conference says this debt and its servicing represent "a new form of slavery, as vicious as the slave trade".

The servicing of such massive debts has brought untold and worsening economic hardships to the poor as third world governments have been forced to freeze investments in education, health, transport, agriculture, housing, sanitation and other vital infrastructures. Evidence of this hardship are chronic poverty, malnutrition, diseases, starvation, hunger, decaying and inadequate infrastructures and economic failures seen everywhere in the developing world. The sad aspect of these debts servicing is that the current generation who are paying for it never requested it nor benefited from it in anyway. The debts were incurred at a time when these countries did not even need loans yet World Bank, IMF and Western governments encouraged them to go for it.

Africa Action a Not for Profit Organisation says, "The albatross of illegitimate debt diverts money directly from spending on health care, education and other important needs. While most people in Africa live on less than $2 per day, African countries are forced to spend almost $14 billion each year servicing old, illegitimate debts to rich country governments and their institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Over the past two decades, African countries have paid out more in debt service to foreign creditors than they have received in development assistance or in new loans. Much of Africa's foreign debt is illegitimate in nature, having been incurred by unrepresentative and despotic regimes, mainly during the era of Cold War patronage. Loans were made to corrupt leaders who used the money for their own personal gain, often with the full knowledge and support of lenders. These loans did not benefit Africa's people. More generally, many Africans question the notion of an African "debt" to the U.S. and European countries after centuries of exploitation. They ask, "Who really owes whom?"Yet, despite the social and economic costs of this massive outflow of resources from the world's poorest region, the wealthy creditors of Africa's debts continue to insist these debts be repaid." Source www.africaaction.org /campaign_new /debt.php

Joseph Hanlon of Jubilee Research UK gives details to what happened to monies loaned to Mobutu of former Zaire now DR.Congo. He says: "Much of poor country debt is related to the Cold War, when both sides pushed money at their supporters. Zaire's ruler, Mobutu Sese Seko, was one of the world's most corrupt leaders and it was for his government that the word kleptocracy was first coined. Mobutu became one of the world's richest men, with a personal fortune estimated at more than $10 billion owning palaces in Europe and Zaire. But the West saw Mobutu as a loyal ally in the Cold War (in part for his support of the US, in its backing for UNITA in Angola). In 1978 the IMF appointed their own man, Edwin Blumenthal, to a key post in Zaire´s central bank. He resigned two years later, complaining of "sordid and pernicious corruption" that was so serious that "there is no chance, I repeat no chance, that Zaire's numerous creditors will ever recover their loans." And look what happened after this report.

Shortly after Blumenthal's report to the IMF, it gave Zaire the largest ever loan given to an African country. When Blumenthal wrote his report, Zaire's debt was $5 billion; by the time Mobutu was overthrown and died in 1998, the debt was over $13 billion. In the six years after Blumenthal's report, the IMF lent Zaire $600 million and the World Bank $650 million. In those six years Western governments lent Mobutu nearly $3 billion.

About 50% of the $13-billion was stolen and deposited in Western Banks notably Switzerland and France while the rest was wasted on white elephant projects that never solved the poverty problem in the country. Today majority of Congolese live on less than a dollar a day while hundreds of millions of dollars are paid to the IMF and World Bank every year as fees for loans taken and stolen by Mobutu.

In another classic example, the World Bank lent Indonesia a total of US$30 billion in the course of General Suharto's three decades of rule. In 1998, World Bank resident staff in Indonesia estimated that: "at least 20-30 per cent of GOI [Government of Indonesia] development budget funds are diverted through informal payments to GOI staff and politicians, and there is no basis to claim a smaller 'leakage' for Bank projects as our controls have little practical effect on the methods generally used". That means by the Bank's own account that up to US$9 billion of World Bank loans to Indonesia were wasted through corruption and that World Bank staff knew it. And they did absolutely nothing to stop the corruption. Today the poor people of Indonesia are still paying for the billions of dollars wasted before the eyes of IMF.

In Philippines during the regime of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the Bank and IMF were absolutely aware of the fact that most loans to Philippines were transferred into the bank accounts of Ferdinand Marcos and his generals; nevertheless they considered it as a necessary bribe for paying the political staff in power in order to ensure the acceleration of the neoliberal counter reform. As a result World Bank lent Marcos $400m in 1980; $251m in 1982 and $600m in 1983 and Marcos deposited the money in his accounts in Switzerland. So far the Philipinos are still paying for the policies of the Bank and IMF.

Dr. Susan Hawley author of  Exporting Corruption has written extensively about how loans taken and diverted into private banks by Ferdinand Marcos have gruesomely affected Philippines´ development and her quest to reduce poverty. She says: "The US company, Westinghouse won a contract in the early 1970s to build the Bataan nuclear plant in the Philippines. It was alleged that Westinghouse gave President Ferdinand Marcos US$80 million in kickbacks. The plant cost $2.3 billion three times the price of a comparable plant built by the same company in Korea. Filipino taxpayers have spent $1.2 billion servicing the plant's debts even though the plant has never produced a single watt of electricity because it was built at the foot of a volcano near several earthquake faultlines. The Philippine government is still paying $170,000 a day in interest on the loans taken out to finance the nuclear plant and will continue to do so up to the year 2018. A Philippino Treasurer Leonor Briones recently commented on the loans: "It is a terrible burden which never fails to elicit feelings of rage, anger and frustration in me. We're talking of money that should have gone to basic services like schools and hospitals". Source: Dr. Susan Hawley.

Patricia Adams, executive director of Probe International, in her book Odious Debts estimates the Philippino dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, and his wife Imelda, pocketed literally one-third of the Philippines' entire borrowing – much of it in the form of kickbacks and commissions on aid and loan-funded projects. His personal wealth when he was overthrown was $10 billion. Source: Jubileeresearch.org.

The behaviour of the two Banks and other lending institutions to prop up corrupt regimes explains why after 50 years of loans there has not been any appreciable reduction in poverty levels world wide and especially in Africa. As I said the best the two Bretton Woods institutions have done is to help the poor countries to build massive debts and increase poverty. Today majority of the 945 million Africans (70%) live on less than two dollars a day meanwhile hundreds of billions of dollars have been loaned to their corrupt leaders and there is nothing to show for it.

James Wolfensohn, Ex-World Bank President seems to disagree and says: "As a public institution we are accountable for helping our borrowers to see that the money allocated under Bank-financed operations is being spent on what it should be spent on and that our borrowers are getting good value for what is being spent". But how does Wolfensohn reconcile his statement with reports regarding loans to dictators in Africa, Asia and South America that produced nothing but poverty? The question is has the billions of loans and aid to third world countries change anything for the poor people in those countries? Can Wolfensohn say with empirical evidence that countries that have borrowed money from the Bank got value for the money? I do not think so. There is no evidence to suggest that IMF and World Bank even made the effort to ensure the people benefited from the loans and there is no evidence to prove that both institutions made effort to recover the money from Mobutu, Suharto, Marcos, or the Banks in Switzerland after it became obvious the dictators had stashed the money in foreign Banks. The two mega banks did not make any effort because they knew future generations cannot afford to refuse to pay as that will be a stain on their credit worthiness. But how fair is it to ask people to pay for things they or their country never benefited?

Instead of being agents of growth, development and helping to fight poverty, what the two institutions and their western political masters have done so far is to entrench poverty, diseases, hunger, starvation and malnutrition in these poor voiceless countries. The pressure on the poor countries to meet their debt obligations has forced many of them to use scarce resources to service these debts to the detriment of their economies and their peoples. If indeed the Bank and the IMF are committed to reducing poverty why would they loan money to corrupt regimes or refuse to take responsibility for the failures of their own policies and actions? Why would they help poor countries to build massive debts only to wash their hands off the debt? And why should poor Africans, Asians and Latinos be made to pay the odious and illegitimate loans that they never benefited? Why should poor African and third world countries be made to take responsibility for the failures of IMF and the Bank´s ill conceived policies that have brought misery and untold hardships to the poor? Who should take responsibility for these odious and illegitimate debts is it the Bank who loaned out of negligence and without due diligence or the people who never benefited?

To ask these poor countries to continue to pay these debts is not only unfair but morally not justified. Poor countries should stop paying these odious and illegitimate debs unless the IMF and the World Bank can prove that the people benefited from it. World Bank and IMF were wilful accomplices to the loot, corruption and mismanagement that took place during Mobutu, Suharto, Marcos, Lansana Conte regimes and which are being repeated by the corrupt regimes of Obiang Nguema, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak, Omar Bongo, Obiang Nguema and Blaise Campore. If lending institutions fail to demand proper accountability from these corrupt rulers then it would be unlawful and improper to ask future generations to pay for the sins of their rulers.

 When consultants Morgan Grenfell urged against the sale of the Uganda Commercial Bank, the World Bank and IMF insisted the sale go ahead. Sold to a Malaysian engineering consortium linked to the brother of the Ugandan president, the bank had to be re-nationalised in 1998 "after running into trouble giving out millions of dollars worth of dubious loans". According to the head of Uganda's privatisation unit, "When [the sale of Uganda Commercial Bank] went bad", the World Bank "disappeared off the radar screen" and refused to take any responsibility for it. Source: greenleft.org.au

Apart from their support for corrupt regimes, the Bank and IMF prescriptive policies have also played a huge role in entrenching poverty in the third world. Worth mentioning are the structural adjustment programme and trade liberalisation which were sold to the poor countries by these financial institutions and supported by the western economic saboteurs. The fact is that the SAP and trade liberalisation among others were ill formulated, implemented and monitored with the results that countries that embraced them have all lived to regret.

The SAP forced onto poor third world countries by the Bank and the IMF forced their governments to abandon their support for the public sector with serious devastating consequences to the health, education and agric sectors. The withdrawal of farm subsidies in particular made it difficult for farmers to produce to support local consumption or compete with their rich Western counterparts who receive billions of dollars of government subsidies every year. The unrests and disturbances over food shortages and high food prices that occurred in Egypt, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mauritania, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia and Sierra Leone in 2008 were the direct result of the Bank and IMF bitter pills prescribed to these poor countries.

Trade liberalisation required the poor countries to privatise or close down certain companies, opening up the economy to foreign goods, reforming economic policy, liberalising labour market, eliminating subsidies, and environmental regulations, eliminating set prices for producers and consumers, increasing exports, cutting government expenditures and giving foreign multinationals free hands to do as they wish often to the detriment of the countries concerned. The cost of trade liberalisation to third world countries is estimated to be $300-billion.

The sad aspect of this exercise is that almost all the companies that were sold went to foreigners and cronies of corrupt government officials and the proceeds stolen or used to service debts already owned by these poor nations. This policy also led to closure of a number of factories, and decline in agriculture output that were sources of livelihoods to hundreds of millions of families. The mention of this retrenchment exercise always brings painful memories to millions who lost their jobs and had to live a life of squalor without any help or whatsoever from their governments.

Also the Bank and the IMF tax and trade policies towards these poor countries always put them at a disadvantage positions when dealing with multinational corporations. Many poor countries are forced to grant tax concessions to multinational corporations as a favour for investing in the third world economies. These concessions include instituting secrete memorandums of agreement, subsidies to foreign corporations and massive tax concessions (such as income tax, usage fees, property tax) which are the primary source of revenue for export-oriented developing countries.

How do you fight poverty when rich companies are made to pay close to nothing for raping countries of their natural resources? Why wouldn´t poverty increase and people die of starvation, hunger and diseases when money meant for development are used to service debts for which the people never benefited?

In an article by Khadija Sharife entitled Capital Flight: Gingerbread Havens, Cannibalised Economies she wrote: "The IMF and World Bank tax policies towards the developing world is very lethal especially where the poor are now caught in tax brackets, courtesy of the IMF and World Bank´s structural adjustment programmes (SAP), instituting policies ranging from tax holidays to the privatisation of state services, carving out huge slices of natural capital at corporate auctions. Africa has collectively lost more than $600-billion in capital flight, excluding other mechanisms of flight such as ecological debt (globally estimated at a potential $1.8-trillion per annum). Thus with the support and collusion of IMF and the Bank, poor countries are loosing billions of dollars in revenue to rich multinational corporations.

The unflinching support that the Bank and the IMF give to multinational corporations against the wishes of third world governments is another reason why poverty is still rampant in Africa and elsewhere. For example, in 1998 the Pakistani anti-corruption agency investigated over 20 Western companies for paying kickbacks to Benazir Bhutto's government for public contracts to provide electricity. Six of the companies later confessed to offering bribes. Instead of receiving support from Britain, France, the US, IMF, World Bank and other Western governments they were told to quash the investigation on the grounds that investors would shy away from Pakistan. The IMF even made a package of loans conditional on the government dropping the charges against the companies involved. Source:www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/item.shtml?x=51975. In the end Pakistan had no choice but to stop the investigations.

It is on record that about 45% of all World Bank project contracts go to multinationals in the US, Germany and Britain why? Why not companies in these poor countries where the projects take place and who finally end up paying for the projects?

But it is not surprising that these multinational financial institutions behave the way they did. Both institutions only acknowledged in 1996 the role corruption plays in entrenching poverty after more than 50 years in existence. Why did they continue to loan to the dictators after mounting evidence that they were looting the loans? Why did it take World Bank 50 years to recognise the devastating impact corruption was having on the world´s poor? Could it be that both institutions are corrupt themselves?

Dr. Jeffrey Winters of Northwestern University says, "The World Bank has participated mostly passively in the corruption of roughly $100 billion of its loan funds intended for development." Other experts estimate that between 5 percent and 25 percent of the $525 billion that the World Bank has lent since 1946 has been misused. This is equivalent to between $26 billion and $130 billion. Even if corruption is at the low end of estimates, millions of people living in poverty have lost opportunities to improve their health, education, and economic condition".

And Sen. Richard G. Lugar speaking about corruption in the World Bank and its impact in fighting poverty said, "Corruption thwarts development efforts in many ways. Bribes can influence important World Bank decisions on projects and on contractors. Misuse of funds can inflate project costs; deny needed assistance to the poor, and cause projects to fail. Stolen money may prop up dictatorships and finance human rights abuses. Moreover, when developing countries lose development bank funds through corruption, the taxpayers in those poor countries are still obligated to repay the development banks. So, not only are the impoverished cheated out of development benefits, they are left to repay the resulting debts to the banks."

In fact, allegations of corruption at the Bretton Woods institutions are as old as the institutions themselves. In 1994, marking the 50th anniversary of its creation at Bretton Woods, South End Press released "50 Years is Enough: The Case Against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund," edited by Kevin Danaher. The book details official Bank and IMF reports that reveal the same kind of corruption and embezzlement back then. In addition, it revealed different types of corruption, for instance, "Beyond the wasted money and the environmental devastation, there was an even more sinister side to the Bank during the McNamara years: the World Bank's predilection for increasing support to military regimes that tortured and murdered their subjects, sometimes immediately after the violent overthrow of more democratic governments.

In 1979, Senator James Abourezk (D-South Dakota) denounced the bank on the Senate floor, noting that the Bank was increasing 'loans to four newly repressive governments [Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and the Philippines] twice as fast as all others.' He noted that 15 of the world's most repressive governments would receive a third of all World Bank loan commitments in 1979, and that Congress and the Carter administration had cut off bilateral aid to four of the 15 --Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Ethiopia -- for flagrant human rights violations. He blasted the Bank's 'excessive secretiveness' and reminded his colleagues that 'we vote the money, yet we do not know where it goes." There is no doubt the money was stolen by the corrupt government officials and dictators who received the money. But the sad thing is that the Bank and IMF have failed to take responsibility for their actions pushing the blame on the poor countries and their poor people who never benefited from it.

Fifty years of loans to the world´s poor and fifty years of extreme poverty and odious debt among the world´s poor. It is as if the World Bank has guided these countries into poverty rather than fight poverty. Can we say these mega financial institutions are truly there to help the world´s poor fight poverty or they serve a higher authority whose aim is to keep the world´s poor in debt and in poverty as Jenkins pointed out is his book 'The Confessions of Economic Hit Man'? That is in reality do the Bank and IMF promote poverty or development?

By Lord Aikins Adusei

The Author is a political activist and anti-corruption campaigner.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Corrupt Kenyan MP Threatens Political Activist With Death

Mr Simon Mbugua

Simon Mbugua

Kenyan MP by name Simon Mbugua (pictured above) has sent his bodyguard called Billy to kill a prominent political activist called Fwamba for voicing his opinion about members of Kenya's Parliament who are sometimes bribed to vote in a certain way in favour of corrupt ministers. 

This Billy (bodyguard) phoned the the activist 3.36pm Wednesday asking him to meet him with the intention to kill him.

However, the activist refused to meet him fearing his fate will be similar to three political activists who recently lost their lives under misterious circumstances for voicing their opinion on similar issues in the country.

In August 2008 this MP Simon Mbugua was made to stand trial for fraud and theft and his election as MP for Nairobi's Kamukunji Constituency was very controversial.

It must be remembered that Mr. Fwamba was arrested and beaten by Kenyan police for protesting against lack of food and the fact that prices were beyond the reach of many Kenyans.

By this message we want to tell whole world that Mr. Simon Mbugua should be held responsible should anything happens to Mr. Fwamba.

By Lord Aikins Adusei

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is the ICC Targeting Africa and Third World Countries?

By Lord Aikins Adusei
The International Criminal Court was established in 2002 as a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. As of May 18, 2009, it has issued public arrest warrants for thirteen individuals. Two have died, seven of them remain free, four are currently in custody of the court. The four who are in custody are Thomas Lubanga former warlord from DR. Congo; Germaine Katanga former warlord from DR. Congo; Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui also from DR Congo; and Jean-Pierre Bemba from Central Africa Republic. 

Among the seven who remain free are Joseph Kony from Uganda; Vincent Otti from Uganda, Raska Lukwiya from Uganda, Okot Odhiambo from Uganda and Dominic Ongwen also from Uganda. The rest are Bosco Ntaganda from DRC, Ahmed Haroun from Darfur, Ali Kushayb also from Darfur, and Omar Al Bashir from Sudan. All thirteen of the indicted individuals have been charged with war crimes, and eleven of them have also been charged with crimes against humanity. 

A careful look at the list of the people indicted by the ICC reveals that all those indicted are Africans or of African descent. This has raised a number of questions and allegations that the court is targeting Africans or has been established purposely to deal with the third world, a charge the court has vehemently denied.However, these claims appear to hold water and become weightier when one looks at what has gone on and continue to go on in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Gaza and other parts of the world.

The argument against the court is that if Omar Al Bashir is being accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity for the deaths in Darfur then what about those who invaded, occupied, destroyed and killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis? We all know the invasion of Iraq was done on a pack of lies; those who did the invasion did not have UN mandate to invade and occupy Iraq and neither were they invited by the Iraqis. We also know today that the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was also false. We are aware of the countless number of Iraqis who have died as a result of the invasion. We are aware of the total destruction of the country by the illegitimate and so called coalition forces. From the evidence gathered so far, is the ICC saying that there is no question to answer and that the invasion, occupation, the destruction of the country and the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent children, women and civilians was a just course and that the war did not violate any international law? Can the ICC tell the whole world how different the prosecution of the war in Iraq is from those in Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo or Northern Uganda? What effort has the ICC made to secure prosecution against the perpetrators of the Iraq war? Are the ICC officials living on a different Planet?

Is the ICC aware of the continued insecurity in Iraq created by President Bush, PM Tony Blair and,Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and the fact that most Iraqis today live in fear of their lives, and lack most basic necessities of life such as water and electricity? Is the ICC aware of the torture, humiliation and mistreatment of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib Prison and the fact that only low key officers were court marshalled by the US Army while the big fish continue to enjoy their life outside prison? How different is the estimated 655,000 Iraqis who have died so far and the estimated 300,000 Darfuris deaths?

Is the ICC not deliberately targeting Africans because they are financially poor, military weak and politically ill organised? Is the ICC not targeting Africans because of their skin colour and the fact that they are people without a voice in the world? Is the ICC not using Africa as a proving ground? How many African countries have the infrastructures, expertise and resources to produce the millions of light and heavy weapons littered across the continent which are being used to maim, kill and terrorise the people? What effort has the ICC made to prosecute Western defence companies and contractors who have tend Africa into graveyards? What effort has the ICC made to prosecute the 85 companies who were implicated in a UN report of October 2002 for supplying arms to Uganda and Rwanda armies as well as to the 25 militia groups in DR Congo so that these companies could continue to meet the West insatiable appetite for technology, diamond, gold, coltan and timber? Is the ICC aware that the beneficiaries of the war in DR. Congo were named as Cabot Corporation, Eagle Wings Resources International, Trinitech International, Kemet Electronics Corporation, OM Group (OMG), Barclays Bank, De Beer, Anglo American, Bayer and Vishay Sprague most of them European and American multinational corporations? Why is it that the executives of these corporations who supply the arms and finance the wars have not been indicted, arrested and prosecuted by the ICC? Is it because they are from the West or have different skin colour? Is indicting the Africans who are the foot soldiers and leaving the arms suppliers and financiers in the West not selective justice?

Again is the ICC saying that the extraordinary rendition or secrete CIA prisons in Cuba, Morocco, Egypt and Thailand where presumed enemies of the West are arrested, tortured, imprisoned without trial; denied access to their lawyers, families, food, sleep, are stripped naked and water boarded are not violation of international law? If in the eyes of the ICC the conduct of the war in Iraq and its aftermath are just and that Bush, Rumsfeld, Tony Blair and the CIA did not commit crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression against the Iraqi people then why has the CIA destroyed 92 tapes believed to be containing evidence of torture and war crimes against Iraqis, Afghans and other so called war-on-terror suspects? Has the ICC deduced anything from the destruction of the tapes? Are the CIA and her political masters not destroying evidence that might be used to incriminate them? What has the ICC got to say about that or the ICC has remained silence because the destruction of the tapes did not happen in Africa? 

The recent release of some Guantanamo detainees including Binyam Mohamed and their claim of being tortured collaborate the report that the CIA destroyed the tapes in order to protect former administration members and CIA agents from prosecution. Doesn't the large number of videotapes destroyed confirm to the ICC that the CIA is trying to hide evidence of intense torture and possible deaths of suspects in detention, if so then is it not a criminal offence against international law to torture and destroy evidence of the crime?

If the ICC is not deliberately targeting Africa then why is it that the court has not said anything about the invasion, occupation and the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan? Like Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been killed; the infrastructure of the country destroyed; and the people live in constant fear of their lives, all in the name of war-on-terror. What does the invasion, occupation, destruction of infrastructure and the indiscriminate killing of innocent children, women and civilians in Afghanistan amount to? 

The recent release of memos showing how President Bush officials authorised suspects to be denied food, sleep, made to strip naked and subjected to water boarding (simulated drowning) have caused outcry around the world and have been called torture by President Obama so what is the ICC take of that? As an international criminal court that may pride itself with the use of evidence to obtain sentences, do these evidence make the ICC have any sympathy for these victims of torture and inhumane treatment?

Furthermore, if the ICC is not targeting Africans then what justification has it got not to indict the leadership of the Israeli government and the army for the utter destruction of Gaza; the killing of more than 1300 people most of them innocent civilians; as well as the over 5300 who were injured in the 22 day air, sea and ground assault on Gaza? At least 4000 homes were destroyed and more than 50,000 people were rendered homeless. UN and Red Crescent facilities, schools, mosques, hospitals and power installations were deliberately and systematically targeted and destroyed. Medical personnel were shot at as they tried to evacuate the injured and the dead; the seriously injured were prevented from leaving Gaza to receive medical care abroad, people who wanted to flee the war were prevented from doing so as the borders were sealed off and weapons that should not be used in populated areas were used. There were no discrimination between civilians, Police personnel and their facilities and Palestinian fighters as bombs were rained on everyone everywhere. 

Gaza today is the biggest prison in the world with the people in dire need of food, water, electricity and medicines. Are those collective punishment not war crimes? The fact that the Israeli government put together a team of lawyers headed by the Justice Minister to defend the soldiers should charges be brought against any of them, is an indication that even the Israelis believe their actions were tantamount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. When the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman in the person of Mark Regev was asked by an Aljazeera broadcaster on the use of white phosphorous in densely populated areas in Gaza, his response was that the Israeli Army did not use any weapons that the Americans, Canadians, British and the NATO forces did not use or are not using in Iraq and Afghanistan which is to say if we are guilty then they might be guilty as well. What justification has the ICC got not to indict the Israeli leadership? 

A recent report released by an Israeli academy says that soldiers have admitted committing war crimes in Gaza. The testimony published by the Israeli military college at Oranim gives damning soldiers' accounts of the killing of civilians and vandalism during recent operations in Gaza. "One account tells of a sniper killing a mother and children at close range whom troops had told to leave their home. Another speaker at the seminar described what he saw as the cold blooded murder of a Palestinian woman. "The climate in general... I don't know how to describe it.... the lives of Palestinians, let's say, are much, much less important than the lives of our soldiers," an infantry squad leader is quoted as saying. In another cited case, a commander ordered troops to kill an elderly woman walking on a road, even though she was easily identifiable and clearly not a threat. Dany Zamir director of the academy told an Israeli public radio: "[The testimonies] conveyed an atmosphere in which one feels entitled to use unrestricted force against Palestinians". Source bbc.news.co.uk 

A United Nations inquiry on May 5, 2009 accused the Israeli military of "negligence or recklessness" in its conduct of the January war in Gaza. UN has even been advised to press claims for reparations for deaths and damage. And it is not only UN which says Israel committed war crimes, all major human rights organisations agree on that subject. There are reports that Israel is operating secrete prisons and our knowledge about CIA secrete prisons tells us what goes on in those Israeli facilities.

What is more, is the ICC saying Russian leaders did not commit war crimes in their conduct of the wars in Chechnya and Georgia? Or those crimes have been ignored or overlooked because it involves another untouchable superpower showing its muscles against a defenceless people?

And how about the illegal detention, torture, imprisonment and mistreatment of Tibetans and Muslims in China by the Chinese authorities? Why has the ICC refused to indict any member of the Chinese administration for such blatant violations of human rights? Every year the US State Department releases what it claims to be human rights abuses in China yet we have not heard any indictment or prosecution from the ICC. 

Additionally, are the Swiss government and the banking institutions in that country not guilty of crimes against humanity for keeping billions of dollars of stolen monies meant for the welfare of humanity? And how about the governments of Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, France and Jersey Islands and their banking institutions that have become well off through monies stolen from the poorest of the poor? Is the ICC saying keeping billions of dollars of stolen money meant for the welfare of the people not a crime against humanity? Or the ICC has closed her eyes and ears because the institutions and corporations involved are of Western origin? 

There were a number of calls mostly in the West for Robert Mugabe to be put on trial for not providing the medicines needed to fight the cholera epidemic that ravaged Zimbabwe. The question is if Mugabe should be put on trial then how about UBS, Credit Suisse, Barclays Bank, Citi Bank and others who are keeping the money that could be used by the people themselves to buy the medicines?

If Americans are calling for Bush, Rumsfeld and some Pentagon officials to be prosecuted for sending Americans to die in vain and for ordering detainees to be tortured then what is the ICC doing? What is the war on terror telling the ICC; what is the indiscriminate killing of children, women and civilians and the daily violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan telling the ICC? Has the ICC got different sets of rules for the third world and another for the so called developed world?

Is the US not culpable for selling or donating military machines that Israel used and continue to use to destroy Palestinian homes and kill unarmed civilians? If there is anyone on earth who has to stand before the ICC to answer charges of war crimes and crime against humanity does the ICC think it should be Al Bashir and her Africa colleagues alone? Shouldn't Bush, Blair, Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld and the hawks in their administration be also indicted? But will the ICC have the courage to put Bush on trial for illegally invading, occupying, destroying Iraq and creating one of the serious humanitarian crises ever to hit the Middle East in recent memories? Is leaving Bush and his cronies and indicting Omar Al Bashir and the other foot soldiers in Africa not selective justice?

Is the ICC's silence on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Chechnya, Georgia and the wider war on terror not vindicating her critics that the ICC is there to prosecute Africans and third world countries and not war aggressors from the West like Bush, Rumsfeld, Tony Blair, Putin; the corrupt banking, oil, defence, and technology cartels in Europe, North America, Japan and China who provide most of the funding for the wars and instabilities in Africa? 

Can the ICC explain to the world why leaders of America, Britain, Russia, China and Israel should go unpunished while Africa leaders should be punished for committing the same crime? Or has the ICC got different guidelines regarding crimes and punishment for the third world and another set for members of the developed world and their friends? Are the lives of Africans any different from Tibetans, Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans, Chechens and Georgians?

If those indicted in Africa have committed any crime surely they must face the consequences of their actions but it will also be an injustice if those supplying the weapons and bankrolling the conflicts are allowed to go unpunished. I do not accept any law or any notion that make certain people who commit crimes untouchable while others are pursued vigorously for committing the same crime. If we want the world to be peaceful for all mankind to live in and pass it on to future generations, then institutions like the ICC tasked with ensuring that peace should not be selective, biased or partial or perceived to be biased towards a certain class of the earth's citizens. 

No one should be treated or made to feel s/he is above international law when it comes to things that matter to the whole world, not even United States President. No nation no matter her economic, social or military capabilities should be treated differently when it breaks international law. No individuals no matter the office that s/he holds should be exempted from prosecution if he or she breaks international law. It is by upholding this principle that the ICC will be seen to be credible, impartial and unbiased. For what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander.

By Lord Aikins Adusei
The Author is a Political Activist and Anti-Corruption Campaigner

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Do not play politics with the economy-NPP

Accra, GNA - The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has called on the government not to play politics with the state of the economy, since it would not do the Ghanaian populace who voted them into power any good.


The party praised the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) for coming out with the accurate Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 7.3 percent despite the 6.2 percent which had earlier on been announced by the Finance Minister Dr. Kwabena Duffuor.


"The GSS reported that for the year 2008, the real GDP grew at 7.3 percent, at least 1.1 percent higher than was reported in March by the Finance Minister", said Mr. Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Minority Leader at a press conference in Accra.


The press conference was to highlight the accurate GDP of 7.3 percent announced by the GSS instead of the 6.2 percent announced by government.


He noted that the 7.3 percent growth of the GDP in 2008 was reported to be one of the highest in 30 years in the nation's economic management and that it was achieved in the face of record high oil prices, a meltdown in the world financial markets and a global recession.


He said when the then NPP government assumed power in 2001, the economic growth rate for 2000 was a meagre 3.7 percent and that under sound economic management, the government was able to increase it to 7.3 percent in 2008 in spite of all challenges.


The Minority Leader intimated that when in 1999/2000, oil prices rose to 36 dollars per barrel, the GDP growth rate under the NDC and the Economic Management Team  which was chaired by the then Vice President John Atta Mills was 3.7 percent.


"In 2008, with oil prices rising to as high as 147 per barrel, we were able to achieve a growth of 7.3 percent", he added.


He said it was unfortunate that although the economy grew by 7.3 percent in 2008, the new NDC administration had targeted a growth rate of 5.9 percent for 2009, a decline of 1.5 percent from the 2008 figure.


 He noted when the then Vice President Mills headed the Economic Management Team in 2000, inflation rose to 40.1 percent whiles the cedi also depreciated by over 50 percent. 


"Subsequently, the cedi depreciated by only 3.7 percent in 2001, 2.2 percent in 2004, 0.9 percent in 2005, 1.1 percent in 2006 and 4.8 percent in 2007 and unfortunately by the end of 2008, inflation  rose to 18.1 percent due to the 2007/2008 shocks (less than half its level when Professor Mills was the manager)", he explained.


According to Mr. Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, under the NPP administration, Ghana's debt burden was also significantly reduced as a result of good economic policies adding that the country's external debt was reduced to 27 percent of GDP in 2008 as compared to 156 percent of GDP in 2000.


He said by 2008, Ghana used only 4.8 percent of its exports to service debts as compared to 28 percent in 2000 adding that in 2008 "our debt service was 12.1 percent of government revenue as compared to 50.1 percent in 2000".



Electoral Commission, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition join forces to fight electoral corruption

Accra, May, GNA - The Electoral Commission (EC) and the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) on Wednesday developed a mutual platform to promote political transparency and accountability as a means for fighting electoral corruption in Ghanaian politics.


The two bodies also called on the government to pass the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, which is considered as a vital instrument for fighting corruption.


Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, EC Chairman said the Commission, in its quest to eliminate electoral corruption is in the process of developing a new format for submitting audited accounts of political parties.


The EC Chairman stated during discussions with a team of GACC members led by its Chairman, Reverend Dr Fred Deegbe, who is also the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Mrs Florence Denis, Executive Secretary of GACC and Mr Bright Kwame Blewu, General Secretary of Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).


He explained that it was a constitutional and statutory obligation for political parties to inform EC about their sources of funding, including contributions or donations in cash or kind and property but most often what was presented looked "strange".


He said all registered political parties in country had a statutory obligation to submit their audited accounts to the Commission for verification by the end of June every year.


The law says: "A political party shall, within six months from December 31st of each year, file with the Commission a return indicating the state of its accounts; the source of its funds and membership dues paid or risk cancellation of its registration.


"Without prejudice to any other penalty prescribed by the Act or any other enactment, where a political party refuses or neglects to comply with the provision or submits a declaration that is false in any material, the Commission may cancel its registration."


The EC chairman explained that, "Even though, the Commission was empowered by law to withdraw the certificate of any party that failed to comply with the law, the EC in the past had resorted to dialogue, sensitising and educating the parties to ensure compliance".


Dr Afari-Gyan therefore commended the initiative of the GACC to support the EC in fighting electoral corruption, which he indicated involved any action or inaction that sought to influence the election in favour of a party or candidate.


"A Media practitioner who engages in false reportage or incite the electorate against a political party or individual contesting election is also involved in electoral corruption," the EC Chairman stated.


The EC Chairman noted that even though the law forbid foreigners from making financial contributions to any political party, "it's an open secret that they do, we therefore need investigative journalists and anti-corruption agencies to expose these corrupt practices".


He said; "any person or company that contravenes the constitutional provision on the funding of political parties would forfeit such amount to the State.


"A non-citizen found guilty of contravention of the provision shall be deemed to be a prohibited immigrant and liable to deportation under the Aliens Act".


Mr David Adeezen Kanga, Deputy Chairman in-Charge of Finance and Administration called for a review of the law on public disclosure to ensure that the giver of gift who failed to disclose and the receiver who failed to disclose were culpable.


The EC Deputy Chairman also suggested the Enhanced Public Support Regime with strict condition for assessing funds to inject financial discipline into operations of the political parties.


He said for parties to assess the fund, it must obtain at least one percent of votes cast in the last general elections, must give full disclosure of income and expenditure report and adhere to stringent accountability process.


Rev. Deegbe said GACC considered EC as a key Governance Institution for fighting electoral corruption and tasked the Commission to harmonize the accounting procedure for submitting audited accounts by political parties.


Other speakers included, Mr Kwadwo Safo-Kantanka, Deputy Chairman in-Charge of Operations, Mr Ebenezer Aggrey Fynn and other members of the Commission.


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