Where’s our money gone?
Posted by Exile on July 8, 2006
Some time ago, we discussed the effectivity of aid to Africa here on the blogosphere. Amongst other places, I can refer to The Gates of Vienna and Dymphna’s excellent piece on the UN. Reading the comments on that post, you will see that I contributed by saying that I do not give to organised charities, as most of the money never gets to where it is supposed to. The people. However, I cannot stop the government here from taking my hard-earned money in the form of very high taxes and squandering it wherever they wish so to do. We have many government sponsored projects going on in Africa, not least through the organisation known as Danida. People here have been complaining lately as to the effects of these projects and we do question the validity of them. We have become interested in what the government is doing with our cash. Finally, so has the press. About 1% of the national product is earmarked every year to foreign aid in one form or another, and that is as generous as any country ever gets. More than some, if not most. We cannot protest this, it is a political decision and if we try to reduce it, then everybody from the EU and the UN to Amnesty International and all the other hangers on start whining on about the poor, needy and oppressed millions that we are killing.
Finally, a little spine has been shown by the Danish minister, Ulla Tørnæs. This won’t make the headlines, it will likely not even get a mention on TV, but the Copenhagen Post picked up on this, and I thank them for it:
African development project mired in fraud.
By The Copenhagen Post.
A Danish development project in a Mozambique province is being suspended after millions go missing.
Widespread fraud and irregularities have led Ulla Tørnæs, minister of development co-operation, to close a large development project in Mozambique.
Denmark had been providing economic support for a project intended to provide new classrooms, books and continuing education to teachers in the Zambezia province of
Mozambique. Some DKK 9 million have disappeared from the DKK 52.3 million which were earmarked for the area.
The missing funds were discovered during an audit of the program, which has taken the better part of a year to complete.
Tørnæs is now demanding the Mozambique government repay the missing sum. Denmark has also reported the financial advisor responsible for the project to the financial crime unit of Mozambique’s attorney general.
‘It is definitely a problem that the poor population will have to do without these schools. It is necessary, however, that Danish support is used in strict accordance to the rules and without fraud, which is why we have cut support to the province in question,’ said Tørnæs.
Tørnæs said that Mozambique’s Prime Minister Luísa Diogos, assured her their government supports the action, during a recent visit to Denmark.
‘The government in Maputo has made it clear that they don’t support fraud and corruption, and also want to get to the bottom of the case,’ said Tørnæs.
Denmark finances two other school projects in other provinces in Mozambique. Tørnæs said the funds for those projects would remain available. In all, the Mozambique project has a price tag of DKK 560 million.
For my American readers, the Danish Crown is running at 5.8 to the USD. Which means about 1.5 million dollars is missing.
Just to be absolutely certain, I checked with the foreign ministry and found this:
IRREGULARITIES IN THE EDUCATION PROGRAMME IN MOZAMBIQUE
The forensic audit of the Danish development assistance to the education sector in the Zambezia province in Mozambique confirms extensive deficiencies in the programme administration.
As a consequence of the information available, it was already in December 2005 decided to stop all new activities and payments under the education sector programme with the exception of the most important activities.
A thorough forensic audit report has just been completed. The audit confirms that there were extensive deficiencies in the administration of the assistance to the education sector in the Zambezia province. The irregularities consist in non-compliance with procedures and rules and a lack of documentation for and approval of a part of the payments made under the programme. The irregularities were ascertained in several of the administrative functions in the province.
Danish Development Minister has today informed the Danish Finance Committee, the Danish Foreign Affairs Committee and The National Audit Office of Denmark about the matter.
Ms Ulla Tørnæs, Danish Development Minister, has made the following statement:
”Today I was informed that the existence of extensive deficiencies in the administration of the development assistance provided by Denmark to the education sector in the Zambezia province in Mozambique has been confirmed. Therefore I have decided to stop all Danish assistance in the Zambezia province with immediate effect. The Mozambique Minister of Education has been notified by the Danish Embassy in Mozambique, which also presented a claim for repayment of USD 1.5 million. Further more we will undertake a thorough review of all programme activities together with our Mozambique partners in order too avoid similar cases. The USD 1.5 million should be compared to the fact that the total sector programme budget is DKK 560 million over a period from 2002 to 2006. Hereof the budget for the Zambezia province is DKK 165,3 million of which a total of DKK 52,3 million was spent in the period 2002 to March 2005.
I already discussed the matter with Mozambique’s Prime Minister Luísa Diogo during her recent visit to Denmark and she assured me that the Mozambique government fully supports the investigation and will take steps to ensure that the matter is acted on. At the same time the Prime Minister stressed the fact that the Mozambique government does not tolerate abuse of public funds and will take the necessary steps.”
The Embassy in Maputo has written to Mozambique’s Minister of Education formally requesting a repayment with regard to all activities for which the requisite documentation is not available. The reaction of the Mozambique authorities is now awaited before further steps can be taken.
The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 5. July 2006
OK, so we have stopped funding temporarily while this gets sorted out. However, I do have a few other questions to this. How can one school cost 6.5 million dollars to set up in Mozambique? And if that turns out to be correct, how can three schools cost 96 million dollars?
Perhaps someone out there can help me?