Latest Developments, September 12

In the latest news and analysis…

Reforms held up
Inter Press Service reports that the International Monetary Fund has warned of delays in reforming its voting system which is currently weighted heavily in favour of the US and European members:

“According to the IMF, based here in Washington, these reforms are aimed specifically at ‘enhancing the voice and representation of emerging market and developing countries, including the poorest’, and are supposed to be formally agreed upon by January 2013 to be officially integrated the following year.

China, for instance, today the world’s second-largest economy, only has voting rights on par with Italy. Under the new setup, China’s weight within the Fund would effectively double, along with that of several other emerging economies, while the voting rights of several developed countries would be curtailed.”

iPhone problems
The New York Times reports on fresh allegations of labour abuses at Chinese factories of Apple supplier Foxconn just as the world’s richest company is set to unveil its latest phone:

“Foxconn has acknowledged using student ‘interns’ on manufacturing lines, but says they are free to leave at any time. But two worker advocacy groups said Monday that they had spoken with students who said they had been forced by their teachers to assemble iPhones at a Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, in north-central China.
Additionally, last week Chinese state-run news media reported that several vocational schools in the city of Huai’an, in eastern China, required hundreds of students to work on assembly lines at a Foxconn plant to help ease worker shortages. According to one of the articles, Huai’an students were ordered to manufacture cables for Apple’s new iPhone 5, which is expected to be introduced on Wednesday.”

Egyptian assets
The BBC reports that the British government is offering a lawyer to Egypt to help it recover assets held in the UK by allies of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak amid allegations London is dragging its feet on the matter:

“In February 2011, [British Foreign Secretary William] Hague told Parliament the UK had agreed to Egyptian government demands to freeze the assets of several former Mubarak officials.
But it took more than a month before Britain and 27 other EU states applied the sanctions. Egypt said the delay allowed the accused officials to move their money elsewhere.
A BBC Arabic and Newsnight investigation found that property and companies linked to key figures in the Mubarak regime have been largely unaffected by the sanctions.

Speaking earlier this month, Assem al-Gohary, head of Egypt’s Illicit Gains Authority, said: ‘The British government is obliged by law to help us. But it doesn’t want to make any effort at all to recover the money. It just says: “Give us evidence”. Is this reasonable?’ ”

Guantanamo death
The Toronto Star reports on the history of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, the Yemeni man who has become the ninth detainee to die at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, which US President Barack Obama had promised to close down in 2009:

“According to court records, Pentagon officials first recommended Latif be transferred out of Guantanamo in 2004, when it was determined he was “not known to have participated in combat/terrorist training.” Again in 2006 and 2008, the Bush administration authorized Latif’s transfer home to Yemen, according to his assessment file made public by WikiLeaks.
In 2010, the U.S. District Court in Washington agreed, ruling that the government had failed to prove its case and ordering Latif’s immediate release. But the court’s decision was overturned in appeal, and in June, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.”

Fracking fight
Waging Nonviolence reports that the South African government’s decision to lift the moratorium on natural gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing is not going unchallenged:

“The industry’s argument that natural gas could diversify their energy supplies while creating jobs, all at a lower carbon cost than oil or coal, are particularly potent in those countries that suffer high unemployment, though African countries may also be especially skeptical due to their history of resource exploitation by outsiders. [Treasure the Karoo Action Group’s Jonathan] Deal noted that Shell’s reputation in Africa in terrible, particularly as a result of accusations of orchestrating the execution of environmental activists in Nigeria. Because of this, he explained, ‘Poor people are not that keen to trust.’ ”

Axing the tax?
Reuters reports that Ghana is reconsidering its proposed windfall tax on mining profits:

“The West African nation, the continent’s second-largest source of gold, proposed the 10 percent windfall tax on mining companies’ profits in its 2012 budget as part of measures to boost income to state coffers.
The government also raised the corporate tax rate on miners from 25 to 35 percent for this year.

The International Monetary Fund last year recommended that Ghana, which is also the world’s number 2 cocoa grower and an oil producer, consider raising taxes or introducing new ones to increase revenues.”

Silicosis suit
The Independent reports that nearly 3,000 South African miners are taking “FTSE 100 giant” Anglo American to court in the UK, claiming that working conditions destroyed their health:

“The latest court filing comes as Anglo is required to disclose information that will effectively decide the jurisdiction of the cases. Anglo argues that any hearings should take place in South Africa, but [British law firm] Leigh Day is examining whether a corporate restructuring in 2009 means that most operational direction now comes from the UK head office.”

Bases, bases everywhere
TomDispatch’s Nick Turse writes about what happens to US military infrastructure when wars end:

“Of those 505 US bases in Iraq, some today have been stripped clean by Iraqis, others have become ghost towns. One former prison base – Camp Bucca – became a hotel, and another former American post is now a base for some members of an Iranian “terrorist” group. It wasn’t supposed to end this way. But while a token number of US troops and a highly militarised State Department contingent remain in Baghdad, the Iraqi government thwarted American dreams of keeping long-term garrisons in the centre of the Middle East’s oil heartlands.
Clearly, US planners are having similar dreams about the long-term garrisoning of Afghanistan. Whether the fate of those Afghan bases will be similar to Iraq’s remains unknown, but with as many as 550 of them still there – and up to 1,500 installations when you count assorted ammunition storage facilities, barracks, equipment depots, checkpoints and training centres – it’s clear that the US military and its partners are continuing to build with an eye to an enduring military presence. ”

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Latest Developments, August 14

In the latest news and analysis…

Hunger crimes
The Guardian’s George Monbiot criticizes British Prime Minister David Cameron for holding a summit on world hunger while promoting the use of biofuels, which Monbiot calls a “crime against humanity”:

“Preparing for the prime minister’s hunger summit on Sunday, the international development department argued that, with a rising population, ‘the food production system will need to be radically overhauled, not just to produce more food but to produce it sustainably and fairly to ensure that the poorest people have the access to food that they need’. But another government department – transport – boasts on its website that, thanks to its policies, drivers in this country have now used 4.4bn litres of biofuel.
Of this 30% was produced from recycled cooking oil. The rest consists of 3bn litres of refined energy snatched from the mouths of the people that Cameron claims to be helping.”

Cereal secrets
Oxfam’s Duncan Green draws attention to a new report on four of “the biggest and most influential firms you’ve never heard of,” grain traders whose combined sales topped $300 billion last year:

“[The ABCDs] are not alone, nor unchallenged, but they remain the overwhelmingly dominant traders of grain globally, and what they do is central to understanding international markets (and the domestic politics of food in many countries, too). Too often invisible in policy debates about farmers and consumers, these companies are careful about where and when they get involved in such debates, rarely seeking the limelight. They do not have brand names to protect in the way that a food processor such as Nestlé does. [Archer Daniels Midland] is publicly listed and Bunge is also a fully public company. [Louis] Dreyfus and Cargill remain essentially family-owned businesses. None of the companies is very forthcoming about its activities, and to track their activities requires patience and guesswork. However, despite the difficulties, it is important to understand their role and their interactions with other companies, national and global.”

Iceland’s success
Bloomberg reports that the International Monetary Fund has praised Iceland for its “decision to push losses on to bondholders instead of taxpayers and the safeguarding of a welfare system that shielded the unemployed from penury” following its economic crisis:

“Iceland refused to protect creditors in its banks, which failed in 2008 after their debts bloated to 10 times the size of the economy. The island’s subsequent decision to shield itself from a capital outflow by restricting currency movements allowed the government to ward off a speculative attack, cauterizing the economy’s hemorrhaging. That helped the authorities focus on supporting households and businesses.
‘The fact that Iceland managed to preserve the social welfare system in the face of a very sizeable fiscal consolidation is one of the major achievements under the program and of the Icelandic government,’ [the IMF’s Daria] Zakharova said.”

Hague threats
The Guardian reports that Rwandan opposition parties in exile are planning to ask the International Criminal Court to indict the country’s president, Paul Kagame, for war crimes for his alleged role in neighbouring DR Congo’s conflict:

“The demand to bring charges against Kagame has support among Congolese as well as opposition Rwandan politicians. ‘The politicians in Kinshasa are aware of these charges and they support them, although there have been no official statements as yet,’ said Nzangi Butondo, a Congolese MP representing Goma. ‘We think now is the right time to [go to The Hague]. It is certainly something to raise publicity, but there is also the hope that the ICC will, as a result, at least launch an investigation into this affair.’ ”

Tragedy double standard
The University of Notre Dame’s Naunihal Singh notes how much less attention American media and politicians paid to the recent mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin compared to the Dark Knight killings a couple of weeks earlier:

“The two incidents were obviously different in important ways: Holmes shot more people, did so at the opening of a blockbuster film, and was captured alive. There were also the Olympics. However, it is hard to escape the conclusion that Oak Creek would have similarly dominated the news cycle if the shooter had been Muslim and the victims had been white churchgoers. Both the quantity and content of the coverage has been clearly shaped by the identities of the shooter and his victims.”

Oceans Compact
Inter Press Service reports that the UN’s new “compact” for the protection of ocean resources has received lukewarm praise from some environmental activists:

“Asked for a response, Sebastian Losada, senior oceans policy analyst at Greenpeace International, told IPS that Greenpeace welcomes the announcement of the secretary-general, and added, ‘We don’t need more statements of concern nor more summaries of the problems we face.
‘What we do need is urgency in the negotiation rooms to move from words to action. Solutions to the oceans crisis exist and are well known, but they continue to be blocked by short-sighted national interests,’ Losada said.”

Adoption trends
James Bloodworth writes an Independent blog entry on the growing popularity in rich countries of adopting children from poor countries:

“Most of those looking to adopt abroad have, I imagine, the same motivation for doing so as those hoping to adopt domestically: a desire to give a child the best possible start in life. And yet the disparities in power and wealth (as with all disparities in power and wealth) inevitably set up a grossly unequal relationship between budding parents in the west and those who ‘produce’ the adoptees of the future in the developing world. Ethiopia accounted for nearly a quarter of all international adoptions to the US in 2010, second only to China. Adoption is fast becoming Ethiopia’s new export, perhaps soon to overtake coffee. Yet not everybody is happy with the way things are going. ‘We want people to invest in Ethiopia rather than take our children,’ Dr Bulti Gutema, head of the government’s adoption authority, has said. Media investigations have also found evidence to suggest that some adoption agencies have recruited children from intact families.”

Failed index
In a letter to Foreign Policy, the Royal African Society’s Richard Dowden expresses three “fundamental doubts” about the validity of the magazine’s Failed States Index:

“Third, the index misses one vital factor: chronic capital flight from poor countries — especially of the illicit variety — conducted largely by transnational companies avoiding taxes through commodity mispricing. Nearly a trillion dollars was looted from Africa through these methods between 1970 and 2008, according to the Washington-based think tank Global Financial Integrity, and that figure has since risen sharply. Poor countries in other parts of the world suffer from this same problem. Will the index assess the cost of these massive financial outflows on human well-being and governance? Now that would be interesting.”

Latest Developments, July 26

In the latest news and analysis…

ATT plea
Author and former child soldier Ishmael Beah makes the case for a strong Arms Trade Treaty – including controls on ammunition sales – as UN negotiations enter the final stretch:

“The treaty is not a panacea to end all violence, genocide and human rights abuses, but it is a colossal step in the right direction. It is also an important missing piece to end the rampant use of children in war and to significantly reduce violence and the number of lives lost in such conflicts. For the first time, it will set an international standard that governments and civil society can use to hold accountable those who sell weapons irresponsibly. It will also prevent the flow of weapons into lawless areas plagued by conflict by closing the many loopholes immoral businessmen now use to navigate with impunity.

As negotiators race this week to finish the text of the treaty, they must include measures to control the flow of ammunition. Weaponry is abundant in Libya, Mali and other conflict zones around the world, but oftentimes ammunition is in short supply.
Some of these weapons, such as AK-47s, are extremely durable. You can bury them, dig them up years later and start using them again. If we didn’t have access to ammunition during the war in Sierra Leone, the AK-47s would have been no more deadly than sticks, and we would have been unable to inflict tremendous violence simply by squeezing a trigger.”

War on drugs redux
The New York Times reports that the US is expanding its drug war into Africa, with “elite” counternarcotics training already underway in Ghana and the same planned for Nigeria and Kenya:

“ ‘We see Africa as the new frontier in terms of counterterrorism and counternarcotics issues,’ said Jeffrey P. Breeden, the chief of the D.E.A.’s Europe, Asia and Africa section. ‘It’s a place that we need to get ahead of — we’re already behind the curve in some ways, and we need to catch up.’

In May, William R. Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement, a leading architect of the strategy now on display in Honduras, traveled to Ghana and Liberia to put the finishing touches on a West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative, which will try to replicate across 15 nations the steps taken in battling trafficking groups operating in Central America and Mexico.”

Jordan loan
Reuters reports the IMF has agreed to lend Jordan $2 billion, in part, to offset the costs of the Arab Spring:

“Meanwhile, tourism income and remittances from Jordanian workers abroad have been hit by the global economic slump and the unrest in the region. Government finances have been weakened by higher welfare spending to buy social peace during the Arab Spring, and by the cost of caring for refugees from Syria.
In an effort to cut its deficits, Jordan launched an austerity drive in May, raising fuel and electricity prices, imposing higher taxes on luxury goods and increasing corporate taxes on banks and mining companies.
But the government’s room for maneuver has been limited by the threat of unrest; Islamist and tribal opposition groups have held street protests against price rises, warning the authorities that austerity measures could trigger wider demonstrations and even civil disorder in impoverished areas.”

Bhopal Olympics
The Hindu reports that survivors of the Bhopal disaster are holding their own “Bhopal Special Olympics” in protest against Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the London Games, which kick off on Friday:

“The Bhopal Olympics, with the theme ‘From East India Company to the Dow Chemical Company’, will be held in a stadium right behind the abandoned Union Carbide factory that continues to leach carcinogenic chemicals in the local groundwater, causing birth defects in children even today.

The opening ceremony will draw attention to the many famines caused during the British rule in India, the mass hangings following the ‘first battle for Indian independence in 1857’, the massacre at Jalianwala Bagh in 1919 and last but not the least, to the support extended by the British Prime Minister to the Dow Chemical Company.”

Big bad pharma
The University of London’s Simon Reid-Henry and Deakin University’s Hans Lofgren condemn a “triple-pronged attack” from the West on India’s role as “global pharmacist”:

“It is not only the pharmaceutical industry that needs to be addressed but the continued and ruthless lobbying by western politicians to secure the profitability of their own industries.
We ought to be asking why governments in the rich world still seem happy to checkmate the lives of poor people to save their political skins. And why the pharmaceutical industry sees India as such a threat.”

Human rights rep
Xinhua reports that former Greek foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis has become the EU’s first-ever special representative for human rights:

“Lambrinidis’ tasks will mainly focus on strengthening EU values in the bloc and around the world.
While some analysts question the tangible effectiveness of such a position, the appointment was welcomed by EU institutions.”

NGO transparency
The Irish Examiner reports that Ireland’s government is considering extending the scope of freedom of information laws to cover non-public bodies that receive state funding, “such as sporting groups and charities”:

“The [government] spokesman said no set criteria had been agreed upon as to which non-public bodies would fall under the extended reach of the FOI laws.
However, it could include the level of funding provided to a body, the percentage of that funding within the body’s overall budget, whether the grants are provided annually as opposed to once-off and the nature of the functions provided by the body and the extent to which it provides a service to the public.”

Constructive vandalism
Oxfam’s Kate Raworth makes the case for rewriting economics into something less focused on GDP growth and monetized resource flows:

“So here’s a guerrilla campaign to make it happen. Anyone can do it because all you need is a pencil. Here’s the plan (umm, I have to say at this point, this is not Oxfam Policy…). Sneak into the bookshops, the libraries and classrooms, and into the office of every economics professor you know. Get out the macroeconomic textbooks and find that diagram. Take your pencil. Now draw in the environment. Draw in the unpaid care economy. Draw in social inequality.
With these few strokes, we could stick a great big spanner in the wheel of mainstream economic thinking. We’d save the next generation of economics students from having the wrong model of the world stuck in the back of their heads. And that would help save us all from another era of economic policymakers who unknowingly have the wrong model of the economy shaping their decisions.”

Latest Developments, July 17

In the latest news and analysis…

Mau Mau trial
The Standard’s Kenfrey Kiberenge writes that a lawsuit brought by elderly Kenyans against the British government highlights “the West’s double standards” in matters of human rights:

“Britain is a strong backer of an ICC case in which four Kenyans face charges of crimes against humanity related to the 2008 poll violence which left more than 1,000 people dead. Questions to any British official about these cases attract a uniform answer: let justice run its course.
Why then is the same administration seeking to have the Mau Mau case struck out on a technicality?”

Bad advice
The World Food Programme is predicting that 1.6 million Malawians will need food assistance over the next few months, in part because of the currency devaluation demanded by the IMF:

“The recent devaluation of the national currency by 49 percent, coupled with soaring inflation at 17.3 percent, has produced sharp increases in the prices of basic goods and services, pushing the cost of living to unsustainable levels for many Malawians. Food prices have been particularly affected by high transport costs due to increases in the price of fuel. Retail maize prices have already increased by 50 percent compared to the same time last year, and are expected to increase in the lean season.”

AU first
The Mail & Guardian reports that South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has become the first female head of the African Union Commission:

“At a news conference earlier in the day before the vote, Dlamini-Zuma sought to dispel fears that South Africa might seek to use the AU post to try to dominate the continent.
Some smaller countries had argued that her candidacy broke an unwritten rule that Africa’s dominant states should not contest the AU leadership.
‘South Africa is not going to come to Addis Ababa to run the AU. It is Dlamini-Zuma who is going to come to make a contribution,’ she told reporters.”

Classified euphemism
The Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko quotes Newsweek’s Daniel Klaidman to illustrate the extent of the Obama administration’s drone-policy opacity, particularly when it comes to the CIA’s practice of killing “individuals who are deemed guilty not based on evidence, but rather on their demography”:

“Signature strike has gotten to be sort of a pejorative term. They sometimes call it crowd killing. And it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. If you don’t have positive ID on the people you’re targeting with these drone strikes. So the CIA actually changed the name of signature strikes to something called TADS. I had the acronym but I didn’t know what it stood for. I had a couple of words. I kind of figured it out. Terrorist, T for terrorist, S for strike and I was trying to find out what does the A-D stand for. Eventually I figured it out. It was Terrorist attack disruption strike. And I was going to put it in Newsweek. And actually it was the excerpt from my book. And various agencies from the government were very unhappy about that. I sort of could not understand why. They said, well, it’s a classified term. And I said, well, why would it be classified? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s just a term to describe a particular kind of activity that we know takes place. They asked me not to print it. You know, I printed it anyway.”

Top of the charts
The Financial Times reports on a new survey that found the UK oil and gas sector has faced more bribery prosecutions than any other industry in the last four years:

“The study by Ernst & Young found that of 26 completed cases since 2008, oil and gas made up nearly one-fifth of prosecutions. The industry saw five completed cases, compared to three each in the medical goods, insurance, and engineering and construction sectors.
Most of them involved payments made abroad, or kickbacks to foreign government officials.”

Controversial philanthropy
The Independent suggests that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s decision to devote millions to the development of genetically modified crops “could be the most significant PR endorsement for the controversial technology”:

“The Microsoft founder and his wife have established themselves as major players in global health and development over the past 16 years, having donated £26bn. Only last week Melinda Gates was in London to pledge $560m (£360m) to improve family-planning services across the developing world. But the Foundation’s support for GM crops has attracted criticism, as has its investment in Monsanto – one the world’s largest GM seed producers.”

Bank Recidivism
Reuters reports that HSBC’s claims to have left its money-laundering days behind may be premature:

“Former employees in [HSBC’s New Castle, Delaware, anti-money laundering office] describe a febrile boiler-room environment overseen by managers uninterested in investigating transactions with possible links to drug trafficking, terrorist financing, Iran and other countries under U.S. sanctions, and other illegal activities. Instead, they say, the single-minded focus was on clearing out the paperwork as fast as possible. ”

Too much help
Inter Press Service reports that not everyone thinks the billions in aid pledged to Afghanistan last month will be entirely helpful::

“The plan ‘Toward Self-Reliance’ promoted by the international community and endorsed by the Afghan government is grounded in a similar oxymoron: the call for the Afghan state to get back its sovereignty and ownership is made by those who are preventing it from happening.
The presence of foreign armies and of the international community ‘is one of the major elements that prevents the State, the political system, the ruling elite, from gaining full legitimacy,’ [the London School of Economics’] Antonio Giustozzi tells IPS. ‘Not necessarily because the foreigners pre-empt that, but because any government that relies on external support to stay in power does not have legitimacy.’ ”

Latest Developments, November 18

In the latest news and analysis…

Structural maladjustment
The Inter Press Service reports on the release of a new UN report on the current state of the world’s Least Developed Countries, while quoting some of the organization’s economists who are highly critical of the impact the World Bank and IMF have in such countries.
“There are currently 48 poorest countries with low per capita income of less than a dollar a day. About two-thirds of LDCs are located in Africa, and all indicators suggest that they are the worst affected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank’s market-oriented policies.
‘The neo-liberal policies (fostered by the IMF and World Bank) devastated these countries,’ says Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, [UN Conference on Trade and Development’s] secretary general. ‘These policies turned most sub-Saharan African countries from net food producing countries into net food importing countries.’
Team leader for the report, Zeljka Kozul-Wright, said that the LDCs are the victims of ‘structural maladjustment’ policies followed over the last 40 years, which resulted in ‘boom-bust cycles and growth collapses.’

Aiding repression
The Washington Post reports the US government has launched an investigation to determine whether technology made by California-based Blue Coat Systems helped the Syrian government monitor dissidents.
“On Thursday, three senators urged the Obama administration to investigate whether Blue Coat and another California-based company had provided “tools of repression” to Damascus.
‘The sale of U.S.-made equipment that may have contributed to ongoing violence is unacceptable and should be investigated as soon as possible,’ said the letter from Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.).

The senators who asked the Obama administration to investigate Blue Coat also asked for an investigation into the California-based company NetApp.
Bloomberg News has reported that NetApp equipment is part of a Syrian Internet surveillance project designed to intercept and catalogue all e-mail in Syria.”

Copyright trumps all
The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Trevor Timm argues a proposed US copyright law – the Stop Internet Piracy Act – will give corporations the power to censor Internet sites and could endanger human rights activists around the world.
“Ironically, we know from the WikiLeaks cables that the State Department has also aggressively lobbied many other countries for strict new laws similar to SOPA. They have even offered to fund enforcement and literally draft the laws that sacrifice free speech for greater copyright protection for Hollywood.
Over one hundred law professors signed a letter staunchly opposing the Senate’s version of this bill on constitutional grounds earlier this year. Even Google’s public policy director Bob Boorstin said the bill ‘Would put the US government in the very position we criticise repressive regimes for doing – all in the name of copyright’. Here’s hoping Hillary takes a closer look and repudiates SOPA as adverse to US interests both at home and abroad.”

Shadow world
Bradford University’s Paul Rogers reviews a new book, written by former South African member of parliament Andrew Feinstein, on the global arms trade and the “web of malpractice” into which it draws the world’s politicians.
“Throughout The Shadow World, Feinstein emphasises the sheer corruption of the whole process, pointing to the enticements and kick-backs, always overshadowed by the ubiquitous use of ‘commission’ and ‘agents’, as though the distancing of corruption through intermediaries somehow makes it more acceptable. What he seeks to do is open up perhaps the greatest international can of worms of the current era, but this is inevitably an area replete with rumour and all too often affected by conspiracy theories that divert attention from the reality of trading in death.”

Cheaper is not always better
Michael Jennings, a lecturer at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, argues that donor pressure for poor countries to open public tenders to international competition is not necessarily good for their economies.
“Public procurement is generally seen as a technical, accounting issue, not a development one. This view is profoundly wrong. State and donor-funded purchasing is a significant part of overall GDP in developing countries, around 20% (and substantially more in some countries). Where that money is spent, and whether governments are able to make decisions on how to use their public resources, matters considerably for development.

Getting value for money is important, of course. Spend less per individual drug, for example, and you get more drugs for the overall money spent. But “value” should not only reflect monetary considerations. Used in the right way, procurement could be an important development tool: helping create jobs, boosting skills, supporting emerging industrial sectors, helping national economies wean themselves gradually off aid.”

Ostracizing tax havens
ECONorthwest’s Ann Hollingshead writes that although not much in the way of concrete policy came out of the recent G20 summit, its host, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, had some harsh words for a handful of tax havens, including one of France’s neighbours.
“Sarkozy intonated that a list of eleven uncooperative jurisdictions should be ‘excluded from the international community,’ including: Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua, Botswana, Brunei, Panama, Seychelles, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. He added that a list of countries which do not conform to acceptable tax practices would be published at all future G20 summits. ‘We don’t want to have tax havens any more.’ He said ‘Our message is very clear.’”

Power shift
The Overseas Development Institute’s Jonathan Glennie argues there has been “a subtle rebalancing of power” between aid donor and recipient countries over the last few years.
“Changes in the global context are the main causes of this change in body language: donor economies are doing badly, calling into question their assumptions of always knowing best; emerging powers are doing well, implying different ways of doing things and providing poor countries with other avenues for trade and aid relationships; and poor countries are doing better economically than before, giving them more confidence and shaking off an attitude of dependence.”