US aid rules in Somalia are impossible, says UN envoy
Country Spent N1.8 Trillion on Petroleum Subsidies in Four Years
Nigeria's finance minister is ready to try what works while the UN in Somalia says the US conditions on aid agencies are unworkable. We trim, blend, and append two 2010 articles from (1) AllAfrica Global Media, February 16 on Nigerian oil subsidies by Omoh Gabriel and (2) BBC, February 17 on US aid rules in Somalia.
by Omoh Gabriel and by BBC
Nigeria: Country Spent N1.8 Trillion on Petroleum Subsidies in Four Years
Nigeria has spent a total of N 1.8 trillion to subsidized petroleum products in the last four years.
The minister of state for Finance Mr Remi Babalola said, "the diversion of scarce resources in the form of petroleum subsidies was not sustainable in the long-run".
According to him "full deregulation of the oil and gas sector remains very imperative.
This will encourage investment in refining and marketing infrastructures.
The legal and regulatory framework for the comprehensive reform of this sector is currently being considered by the National Assembly".
Babalola, who chairs the monthly Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), also called for the establishment of framework like Sovereign Wealth Fund for the management of oil savings currently in excess crude account.
"This comes with clear rules on investment and withdrawal rather than the current practice of strong lobbying for sharing," he added.
The Honourable Minister of State for Finance, also identified transformational leadership, physical infrastructure development, macroeconomic stability, and the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector, among others, as very fundamental for a new prosperous Nigerian Nation.
He listed other fundamentals to include: rule of law, accountability and transparency; governance reforms, enhance human capital development, and employment-oriented development strategy.
Babalola said prosperity "requires an enabling political and legal environment for economic growth and equitable wealth distribution with sound macro-economic management, institutional reform, and overhaul in human capital development."
Babalola noted that what Nigeria desires is a transformational leadership with shared purpose and vision and not transactional leadership fashioned in the prebendal sharing of excess crude, federation account earnings, rent seeking, and crony capitalism.
He said, "As long as we keep having followership that demands patronage, handouts and favors, our search for true leadership will be long and winding.
"The remedies to the maladies confronting our polity cannot be found within the context of the government alone. There is the need for all stakeholders in the Nigerian nation to be alive to their responsibilities."
On physical infrastructure, he explained that the existence of a huge resource gap for government had thrown up the urgent need for alternative funding source for infrastructure.
JJS: Is it just subsidizing oil in particular that’s a bad idea or is it subsidizing anything in general?
Here’s another subsidy in Africa going awry.
US aid rules in Somalia are impossible, says UN envoy
Humanitarian co-ordinator Mark Bowden said that while the US was trying to ensure that aid was not diverted to Islamist insurgents fighting the government, this had politicized their work in a country where hundreds of thousands of people rely on food aid.
Rebels from the hardline al-Shabab group already control much of the capital city and the country's south.
The humanitarian crisis has worsened recently amid rumors that a major battle for Mogadishu is about to begin. About 15,000 people have fled the capital in the past two weeks alone.
Mr Bowden says ordinary civilians are suffering because of a recent US policy aimed at trying to keep food aid away from al-Shabab militants. "I think that if we can get it back from a political agenda to a more practical humanitarian agenda, we'll all be better off."
The US is Somalia's biggest aid donor -- giving $270m (£171m) in 2008, but that figure was almost halved last year.
The US has long accused al-Shabab of being al-Qaeda's proxy in the region. But the group had denied the links until last month when it released a statement promising to "combine" its local jihad with al-Qaeda's global fight.
Somalia has been wracked by violence for much of the past 20 years. It has not had a functioning central government since 1991.
On Tuesday, the UN said it had opened a new refugee camp in Ethiopia -- the fifth camp for Somalis fleeing the violence. The UN says about 200 Somalis are crossing the border every day.
JJS: While people in trouble have a right to help in this big family of humanity, and people enjoying security feel better lending needed assistance, two things come to mind. One, must aid be from governments who coercively impose taxes or can it come from individuals and groups who voluntarily give charity?
And two, why is the aid always flowing in one direction? If aid were effective, shouldn’t it have worked by now? Could there be a better alternative? Ideas that have worked elsewhere before include true free trade and land reform.
Not land confiscation but shifting taxes off earnings, onto the value of locations. That spurs owners to sell of excess to ambitious farmers and creates a middle class, a bedrock for social development. These are aspects of geonomics that have worked wherever tried.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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