Poor nations ‘need a science boost’ to break the poverty trap and catch up, the UN recently said. Its trade and development agency UNCTAD used its annual report on Least Developed Countries to look at the role of science, technology and innovation. These are not luxuries, but necessities. This all is true. But it is also true that aid to corrupt and (equally problematic) inefficient regimes is useless.
Even today we received 4 tax assessments demanding we pay again what was already paid. This is government inefficiency of the island of Bonaire. Curaçao and all the other islands of the Dutch Caribbean are exactly the same. Carnival is more important than government efficiency. And although we lack personal experience of the other Caribbean islands, we daresay they recognize what we are saying here.
Why should we worry about this? Why not just sing ‘feeling hot, hot, hot’ or ‘let’s get together and feel alright’? And jump along to the Calypso beat? Well, you see, aid is not given to subsidize carnival. It is paid to develop our islands. But our governments are misappropriating and squandering the aid we receive. The people get inefficiency, mal-governance and corruption. Sometimes despite all this, thank God, some aid projects do succeed. But the failures are so many that we are justified in painting this bleak picture.
We were once a member on the board of a business association in one of our islands. But if we are sincere, we have to tell potential investors: ‘You know, our islands look like paradise on the surface. And we who live here, love our islands. But, you see, we have found our way through the maze of corruption and inefficiency. We know who to bribe and when. In the end, our best and honest advice is to not invest in any of our islands. You’d better invest in your own country’.
Now, obviously, we do not want to give out this advice. We do not even want to write it. But we are committed to our motto: ‘The truth shall set you free’. If we continue to refuse to look into the mirror and get our own act together, we will never advance. Aid should not be paid to our governments. Foreign aid should indeed (as the UN suggests) be doubled or increased tenfold even. But it should be paid direct to private companies and NGO’s which have a track record of dependency and integrity. On our islands there are enough of those around.
And the aid should be paid only if and when the aid-recipients (the private companies and NGO’s) have a right to submit any legal disputes against other citizens or the local government to a newly instituted international civil and administrative court system, whose verdicts will be enforceable and actually enforced in the island-nations whose private companies and NGO’s have received the aid. This is in keeping with the new role of minimal government. At this moment, certainly in our small Caribbean island states, government cannot bring any solution, because government itself is the problem.
On a different note, we suggest you view our daily video and then surf to avaaz.org and fill out the petition.