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Views from the Center

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The United States Can Give Better Aid to Haiti

This commentary also appeared on The Huffington Post and Global Post

Last week at a United Nations conference, donors pledged more than $10 billion to finance reconstruction and development investments in Haiti. The United States promised a hefty $1.15 billion.

But pledging money is the easy part. The United States, the lead donor and friend with the greatest interest in Haiti's future development, can do much more, in two ways: its own aid programs can be more effective; and it can take steps beyond aid that are far more critical to long-run prosperity for Haiti's people.

Be Careful What You Wish for: Fighting Corruption Is Good, But Not If It Means Stopping Development Assistance

Senators Lugar and Bayh are again on the anticorruption warpath. Yesterday they issued a press release calling for "a Government Accounting Office (GAO) probe of the World Bank's anticorruption efforts." They want to make sure that the U.S.'s $950 million contribution to the International Development Association is not being "misspent and enriching corrupt foreign regimes." Certainly sounds reasonable, but is this really the right focus for a review of World Bank operations?

Folsom's Departure Creates Opening to Fix The World Bank Fight Against Corruption

Suzanne Rich Folsom, the controversial head of the World Bank's internal anti-corruption unit, resigned yesterday to return to the private sector. With Ms. Folsom's departure almost all of Paul Wolfowitz's inner circle has now left the Bank. I expect that some of the Bank's critics will cast this turn of events as victory of the bank bureaucracy over the forces of good in a fight for truth, justice, the American way, and, most especially, zero corruption.

Washington Post Editorial Gets it Wrong on the Volcker Report on Corruption and the World Bank; Financial Times Does Better

A Washington Post editorial today ( A Fight Over Corruption ) says that the new report by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker on the effectiveness of the World Bank's anti-corruption department, (the Institutional Integrity Department or INT)) "reserved its toughest language for the bank bureaucracy itself." The editorial then quotes from the report:

More bad news for oil transparency in Congo-Brazzaville

According to Reuters, two anti-corruption campaigners have been arrested in Congo-Brazzaville, allegedly for embezzling funds. If true, it is disturbing that people tasked with overseeing fiscal transparency are themselves involved in fraud, and bodes poorly for Congo’s chances of breaking its cycle of wasting public money.