Tags: Foreign Aid

Spared by the Sequester: $18.8 Million for Philippine Economic Development


I’m not vehemently opposed to all foreign aid; targeted and administered correctly, it can do a lot of good.

But we live in an era of $16.7 trillion in national debt. Ideally, we would be contemplating cuts to low-priority taxpayer-funded programs to help Americans and cuts to low-priority taxpayer-funded programs to help foreign citizens. But between those two, the priority doesn’t seem that difficult. At the very least, I think we could use foreign aid as leverage with regimes that have been uncooperative in the recent past, like Egypt and Pakistan. Foreign aid is a gift, not an entitlement.

(As I’ve mentioned in the past, I wonder if the U.S. suspended all foreign aid to all countries for one year, whether other countries would be more appreciative when we reinstated it . . . or whether some countries would protest and/or riot outside U.S. embassies, believing they have a guaranteed right to financial assistance from American taxpayers.)

Non-disaster, non-crisis aid to help a country like the Philippines, which is usually on friendly terms with the U.S., seems like something nice to give, but not something we need to give. If we were running a surplus, this wouldn’t be much of an issue. But every dollar that is spent today is, theoretically, a higher priority than the Defense Department civilian employees getting furloughed, or the need to keep certain illegal immigrants in detention centers, or White House tours, or any of the other examples of spending cut under the sequester.

Today’s bit of federal spending “Spared by the Sequester” is $18,897,868 to the Asia Foundation to administer programs in the Philippines:

The COMPETE Project is intended to contribute to higher growth through the better provision of infrastructure, increased competitiveness of key industries, and increased access to credit. USAID will support measures that lower transport and logistics costs, reduce the cost of electricity, and promote the expansion of businesses in the priority sectors identified in the Philippine Development Plan, primarily in tourism and agribusiness.

This contract was awarded today, April 5.

Tags: Foreign Aid , Sequester

Spared by the Sequester: $24 Million for El Salvador


Today’s edition of “Spared by the Sequester” features a new U.S. Agency for International Development contract with Creative Associates International, for an amount “not to exceed $24,841,411,” to support national crime prevention efforts of the government of El Salvador. The contract was awarded March 19; the project has a base period of three years and an option period of two years.

Now, we would all like the El Salvador crime rate to go down. As Duncan Currie wrote for NRO about the country back in 2011, El Salvador is “a shockingly violent country that, outside of neighboring Honduras, has the highest murder rate on earth. The figures are just mind-boggling: Last year, El Salvador suffered 71 killings per 100,000 inhabitants, making it far bloodier than Iraq or Afghanistan.” He added, “its civilian institutions — such as the police and the judiciary — remain dangerously fragile and plagued by corruption.”

But… is aid for El Salvador a higher priority than, say, scholarships for children of military personnel slain in of Iraq and Afghanistan? Or tuition assistance for members of the military? Or any one of the other government services being cut by the Obama administration as it administers the sequester?

You’ll recall, of course, that the Senate considered a bill to give the president greater flexibility in administering sequester cuts. Only two Democrats voted for it, along with 36 Republicans.

Tags: Foreign Aid , Sequester

Spared by the Sequester: $20 Million to Help the Palestinian Authority


Another chunk of federal spending that the sequester missed: A $20.4 million contract to to help out the Palestinian Authority.

The contract’s description:

The overall goal of the program is to build more effective and competent Palestinian Authority (PA) public institutions that are accountable to the public and respond to citizens’ needs. The objectives of this activity are to support the Palestinian Authority (PA) public sector reform efforts by assisting the PA to strengthen the operational and management capability of key ministries and public sector institutions to govern more effectively; improve mechanisms of service provision; strengthen legal and policy formulation processes; enhance the performance of targeted PA institutions, and bolster accountability and oversight mechanisms. This program will support key elements of the PA’s reform and development agenda.

The contract, to Development Alternatives, Inc., was awarded March 4, several days after the sequester began.

Just think, with this $20,451,849, you could keep the White House tours going for two decades.

Above: In this Reuters photo, we see the cheery, warm, and friendly Palestinians, expressing their appreciation for the $4 billion in assistance the U.S. government has sent them since the mid-1990s.

Tags: Foreign Aid , Palestinian Authority , Campaign Advertising

Not Sequestered: USAID’s $5 Million Performance Review in Tbilisi


The harsh life under sequester continues. Yesterday the U.S. Agency for International Development could only ink a $5 million contract with Mendez, England & Associates to provide “USAID Mission to Georgia with services of conducting external/independent performance and impact evaluations over the course of five years in line with USAID evaluation policy, based on USAID requirements and through building the local capacity in the filed of evaluation.”

Now, Georgia is a U.S. ally, and there are concerns about the country becoming more influenced by the Russians. Perhaps USAID will be able to do a lot of good by paying that $5 million to that firm.

But when we hear about 800,000 Department of Defense employees getting furloughs, or any sequester cut that seems genuinely painful to the American public, we can wonder whether that $5 million performance evaluation of USAID work over in Tbilisi could have been postponed. 

Tags: Foreign Aid , Campaign Advertising

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