US holding back economic aid to Pakistan

March 3rd, 2011 - 5:28 pm ICT by ANI  

Richard Holbrooke Washington, Mar 3(ANI): Most of America’s economic aid to Pakistan allocated for last year is still in US government coffers, according to an official report.

Only 179.5 million dollars out of 1.51 billion dollars in US civilian aid to Pakistan was actually disbursed in the fiscal year 2010, Foreign Policy quoted the Government Accountability Office, as saying in a report released last month.

Almost all of that was distributed as part of the Kerry-Lugar aid package passed last year, and none of the funds were spent to create the kind of water, energy and food infrastructure that US official Richard Holbrooke advocated for diligently when he was the Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan (SRAP).

Moreover, according to the report, the Obama administration has not yet set up the mechanisms to ensure that the money is not misspent.

“The full impact of the fiscal year 2010 civilian assistance could not be determined because most of the funding had not yet been disbursed,” the report states.

The GAO, which tracked Kerry-Lugar aid sent to Pakistan by December 31, said: “It will take some time before significant outcomes of the civilian assistance can be measured.”

The SRAP office said the leftover funds were due to the fact that the money was appropriated belatedly and the first year of the program carried with it unique challenges.

“While the facts of the GAO report are accurate, it doesn’t reflect the big picture nor adequately represent what we’ve achieved with civilian assistance over the last year,” said Jessica Simon, a spokesperson for the SRAP office.

“As the FY 2010 funding was appropriated in April 2010, it is hardly surprising that only a portion of the funding was disbursed by the end of the year,” she added.

The GAO has long called for better oversight of the funds, especially in Pakistan’s

Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

US Congress was spurred by the lack of accountability to mandate better oversight of the Kerry-Lugar aid, including provisions that require reporting on the Pakistani military-level of assistance to the United States.

But these provisions have been portrayed in some parts of the Pakistani press as unwarranted interference in the country’s affairs. Popular reception of the Kerry-Lugar bill in Pakistan has been filled with scepticism of US intentions. (ANI)

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