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Cutting The Red Tape In Donor Programs - 2003-02-21

Officials from 26 developing countries and dozens of international aid agencies are meeting next week in Rome to improve cooperation and efficiency by streamlining policies and procedures. In other words, by cutting what’s known as “red tape.”

The World Bank is taking part in the meeting, which is being held Monday and Tuesday, February 25 and 25th. James Adams, the Bank’s Vice-President for Operational Policy, spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the need to eliminate red tape from donor programs. He says, “We’re going to have to change decades of past practices. The Rome meeting offers us the chance to do exactly that.” Mr. Adams says, “Donors and developing countries need to work more effectively together to remove bottlenecks in delivering aid.”

The World Bank estimates there are sixty-three thousand donor-funded development projects worldwide, “each governed by countless demands, guidelines and procedures to make sure aid gets to the poor.” But the Bank says those procedures often overwhelm the governments of developing countries, delaying assistance and driving up costs. For example, in Burkina Faso alone there are an estimated fifteen hundred projects.

The Rome conference aims to make rules, regulations and procedures more uniform and thus make it easier for developing nations to meet donors’ requirements. The World Banks says one example of overlapping and confusing regulations was found in Vietnam where it “took donors 18 months and the time of 150 government workers to purchase five vehicles because of differences among the aid agencies over procurement policies.”