As the G8 is getting ready to meet in Gleneagles and rockers and rappers prepare for the Live8 concert to focus western attention on the continuing plight of Africans, the Germans are putting the brakes on Tony Blair's proposal to double development aid to Africa:
But German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's advisor on Africa policy, Uschi Eid, said the plan does not come at the right time.
"Without strong institutions and professional capacities, a doubling of aid is not very useful," Eid said. "Of course, we want to double development assistance to Africa. But this must be done step by step to be able to make the reforms work and to make sure the necessary infrastructure is put in place."
Eid was speaking after a meeting with Wiseman Nkuhlu, the executive director of Africa's homegrown NEPAD initiative, in Berlin on Monday.
Actually, there is not really much to disagree about this statement. The wisdom of doubling aid just now is indeed questionable. In the current makeup of African government there is so much corruption and violence, that the money would either go down the drain or be siphoned off to enrich dictators or both.
But imagine if a Bush Administration official had uttered those words. We would be hearing constant haranguing of America's lack of commitment to developing economies.
Of course, now that Europe is finding that it is running out money to throw around with abandon, we will probably witness more fiscal conservatism for the time being. How this will color the aid package that Blair wants to put together is yet to be seen, but if even the Germans are now talking about reform, access to markets and increased production, we just might see a workable plan for Africa.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, Schroeder is floating a plan to impose a punitive tax on all Germans who make more than €250,000 (right now about $303,000) soon after the top rates had been reduced. Schroeder did this just as he is getting set to face a confidence vote. The new rates for the wealthy would be 45%, a paltry figure for the privilege of living in Gerhard's modern utopia.
UPDATE II: I thought that I would respond to thc's comment here in the body of the post. Instapundit lnked the other day to this site, which is reporting that the tsunami aid is being held up because of corruption, politics and "reneging from donor countries." Disappointing but not surprising. Here actually is a place where pure aid is needed aling with redevelopment dollars to attract tourism and business. It has been reported the private American aid (stress of the word private) had long ago passed $1 billion. I do not know how of if that aid is getting to the needy.
Of US aid pledged, 35% has been paid so far, where as 84% of German pledges are yet to be paid. Gerhard should tax the rich some more.