Fri, Apr 12, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Greater transparency on aid needed

By James Baron

Attempting to assuage such concerns, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement insisted: “Nicaragua’s government has promised to use this loan appropriately in the aforementioned areas.”

Hardly.

The Nicaragua cases made headlines due to the global spotlight on the country. Elsewhere, Taiwan’s contributions receive less scrutiny. To take just one example, the details surrounding US$150 million of “investment” in Paraguay that was announced last year remain murky.

Even where a specific breakdown of expenditure is offered, there is often no way to be certain of what goes where. The situation frequently seems little better than the “amateurish spreadsheets” Jammeh provided as evidence of his expenditure.

Commenting on the need for greater transparency in this development assistance, National Taiwan University professor Chien Shiuh-shen (簡旭伸) said: “I think more alternatives will be adopted, but old tactics may still have a role on some occasions.”

The sooner those tactics fall by the wayside, the better. Taiwan needs to embrace the current trends toward transparency, public diplomacy and civil society approaches in its development assistance. Only then can we be sure our money ends up in the hands of those who need it, rather than the clutches of absconded despots.

James Baron is a freelance writer and journalist based in Taipei.

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