Focus Point - Ditching Foreign AidCommentary by Pete du Pont
August 31, 2001
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Is it time to admit foreign aid often does more harm than good?
When dead-broke Malawi got its annual 52 million-pound grant from Britain, the government's first act was to buy 39 new Mercedes for cabinet ministers.
Canadian aid built an airport in remote Kenya - apparently used only by the president, who lives nearby.
British aid earmarked for housing for poor Palestinians was used instead to build luxury apartments for friends of Yasser Arafat.
Where aid isn't stolen, it often does more harm than good. The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported last year that World Bank aid destroyed the Mozambique cashew and sugar industries. One Sudanese leader rejected aid for his people because he said it would destroy their self-reliance, based on his experience of productive farms destroyed by food aid.
And when Somalian aid was cut off in 1995, the Mogadishu economy boomed. Foreign aid's like welfare, and reforming it may be the best thing for its recipients.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you next time.