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Foreign aid needs to be studied

August 31, 2010
The Daily Mining Gazette

A few members of Congress are worried that billions of American taxpayers' dollars are being wasted in corrupt, undemocratic countries throughout the world in the form of foreign aid. They are right to be concerned.

The lawmakers are inquiring into plans for a 6-year-old U.S. initiative meant to help developing countries. Twenty nations already have received $7.2 billion in assistance.

But some of the recipients are regimes the U.S. State Department says are riddled with corruption. One recipient, Moldova, has an educational system where corruption is "pervasive," according to the State Department.

Another recipient, Benin, is so corrupt the government there is investigating six former and current Cabinet members.

At least some action is being taken in Benin. In Mozambique, another recipient of U.S. aid, the State Department has said crooked government officials operate with virtual impunity.

The aid program is set to distribute $540 million to Senegal, where the president uses scarce resources for purposes such as erecting a 164-foot-high monument to himself.

U.S. aid should go to countries where the money will be used for appropriate purposes, not to pad the numbered bank accounts of corrupt officials. Members of Congress should investigate the program and insist on changes.



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