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USA wasting millions in Georgia2011-01-12 19:25
For the second time US foreign aid agency Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) offers financing for large projects in Georgia. As part of the poverty alleviation program the country will be given millions of dollars contrary to the foundation's normal practice of sponsoring one program in one country only once. Millennium Challenge members turn a blind eye to the criticism of NGOs that report on misappropriations at the time of implementation of a project as part of the program.
The Millennium Challenge makes an exception for Georgia. The US corporation that supports programs in third-world countries and in the post-Soviet space makes second proposal that Georgia cannot refuse - to be given other hundreds of millions of dollars to implement various projects.
The decision uncharacteristic of US bureaucracy won't look surprising if we recall that Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, is the chair of the board of directors of the corporation. She is openly benevolent to Georgian authorities.
Georgian government did only one formal procedure in December asking US partners to make an exception and provide financing for new projects one more time.
It's difficult to argue with enthusiastic Georgian government that the foundation's decision demonstrates US political support for Georgia.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia welcomes the decision made by Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors on 5 January 2011 to select Georgia as eligible to develop proposals for the second compact", - the statement of the Georgian ministry of foreign affairs goes.
Georgian diplomats were quick to define the decision on program extension as a result of successful cooperation in the past. "The Board's decision was contingent on good policy performance, development of projects promoting economic growth, elimination of poverty and rehabilitation of infrastructure, which eventually resulted in the successful completion of the first compact", - the message reads.
In reality implementation of the program on site does not look so flawless. NGOs that monitored the project development have already reported on misappropriations that occurred during implementation of the largest US-financed project - construction of Tbilisi-Akhalkalaki motor highway.
Open society - Georgia and the research center of economic policy made up five reports analyzing the state of affairs at the time of highway construction. Embezzlement is glaring.
It is interesting that the NGOs were trying to draw attention to the situation for more than two years when the highway was under construction. As a result, according to Open Society - Georgia CEO Keti Khutsishvili, the foundation allocated USD 212 mln instead of initially estimated USD 100 mln for road construction. And instead of preplanned 245 km only 222 km of the highway were repaired.
The authorities shifted all blame on the contractor - Ashtrom International that could not meet its obligations under the contract. However, NGO activists see the "signature" of the authorities here.
Nino Evgenidze from the Economic policy research center refers the problems created by Ashtrom International to Georgian authorities failing to control the process.