Nov 24, 2010

The hidden cost of aid

The news these last two weeks has been dominated by news about Ireland and the Eurozone. Does Ireland need a bailout, and how much? How will this affect the Eurozone? Are Portugal and Spain next? There have been a plethora of interviews with Irish nationals, politicians and economists all weighing in on the issue; and I find this quite fascinating.
I am always encouraged to hear people taking interest in issues of such importance, and how they go about getting their voices heard by the decision makers. If I’ve learned anything at all, it is how proud the Irish are, and the rest of Europe for that matter.
Taking a bailout aka money from the IMF is nothing of which to be proud. Words like “humiliating,” “shameful,” “loss of national pride,” have been bandied about; we saw a similar reaction earlier this summer with Greece, and I am sure the same will happen if and when Portugal and Spain need the same. No one is smiling while the ink is drying on those deals.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – my dear intrepid African leaders, I hope you’re watching and paying attention.
Instead of hurling insults at aid donors and other institutions who lend us money when they ask for accountability of the funds, we should learn to be responsible with money entrusted us. Furthermore, we should think twice about receiving non-emergency aid and come up with legitimate ways to reform our tax structure to ensure that people and businesses are paying their fair share, and that the money is used to fund our own activities without always looking for a “top-up” from the outside.
Granted the situation in Europe is unique to the financial downturn and immediate action is needed but the principle remains the same. What can you do for yourself without needing a hand? And what do you give up when you receive that lending hand?

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