Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Letters: The love of money

Tue, 12/22/2009 9:20 AM | Reader's Forum The Jakarta Post

Once again we see President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono begging for more foreign aid (Dec. 18 “Environment-related grants from developed countries must be raised: RI”) as if money was the all-singing, all-dancing cure for Indonesia’s self-inflicted environmental problems.

Before any other country throws more money at Indonesia, let’s take a look at just one of the many examples of lack of transparency and accountability by the British government, who’s remarkably generous Department for International Development (DFID) has managed to give an eye-watering £17 million (US$27 million) of British taxpayers’ money to help various forestry projects between 2004 and 2009.

When recently asked to provide details of what this £17 million had achieved, the DFID were unable to point to a single, not one, project, community, forest etc. which had benefited from this money.

The EU adopts a very similar, carefree attitude with its taxpayer’s money. There is zero accountability when it comes to governments spending other people’s money, which is one reason why I believe Indonesia needs to withdraw its begging bowl, stop blaming others, take responsibility for its own environmental disasters and generate some national pride in dealing internally with them swiftly and comprehensively. It has the ability, but does it have the will and commitment needed to turn things around?

Hundreds of millions of pounds have been pumped into Indonesia to help resolve one problem or another of the country’s own making. And now, not only is there little or nothing to show for such donor generosity, Indonesia wants more, more, more money. Only this time the government of Indonesia has upped the stakes and wants billions of pounds.

We need more results, more transparency and more accountability from all the relevant governments – and NGOs who often are the beneficiaries of overseas taxpayers’ money. I imagine taxpayers in Indonesia would expect nothing less if their money was being given to people thousands of miles away.

Sean Whyte