is accountable if the MCG bird flies away?
The Sunday FT Editor some years back set up a successful "Business
Managers Club" which meets regularly to discuss issues impacting
them, share knowledge and network. The Wise Old Owl took a cue from
the Editor's book and invited a set of the feathered kind to a similar
meeting last week, held atop the Animal Farm barn. Those attending
were business birds, professional banking birds, migrating AID birds
and returning Diaspora birds from the stars and stripes country.
The topic for discussion was "Who is Accountable if the MCG
(not the Cricket Ground but the Millennium Challenge Grant) bird
flies away from Sri Lanka?"
bird tracing the background began the meeting stating, "the
US Government announced a billion dollars per annum budget package
for a five year period to help nations to move towards the Millennium
Development Goals and Sri Lanka was one of the first group of nations
so selected ". Another said," being so high up on the
MDG indicators Sri Lanka was lucky to qualify. A skeptic bird asked,
"did the US Government look to Sri Lanka to deliver a positive
result on its AID investment, believing it will definitely succeed."
2004, internationally recognized Consultants and AID Associates
visited Sri Lanka to set up a process to get good proposals developed
and presented to the MCC (not related to Cricket!) and they went
around getting at the business, chambers and NGO types in addition
to the government to submit proposals," recollected one bird.
It further recounted, "the chambers and NGO's invested time
and effort and with the help of the Consultants made network partnerships
and were ready with good proposals, when the new government decided
that Consultants must go and " government Buru-Cats" must
prevail and all proposals must be centrally reviewed, developed,
consolidated and submitted by the Sri Lanka Government. The Chambers
and NGO's went behind the powerful and several Ministers were tapped
for networking but in the end one Ministry prevailed with its iron
fist to submit a consolidated proposal."
bird with an insight into the workings of the inner sanctum of MCC
reported, " the first proposal of 29 pages was so poor in quality
and presentation that it was returned by the Sri Lankan Ambassador
in the USA to the Foreign Ministry for improvements before submission".
One other AID networked bird said," the final product is nearly
double the original length and applies for nearly 25% of the available
grant of one billion dollars, but the quality is yet second to many
submitted proposals from smaller and more backward African and Caribbean
bird who perched atop the building where the MCC met had heard through
the chimney that, "the verdict on the first round review of
Sri Lanka’s proposal was that it lacked credibility (100 public
officials capacity building costs budgeted at twice the actual costs
for all of them to attended PhD programmes in the USA), attempts
to transfer usual national budget line items to the MCG programme
and above all lacks the involvement, consultation and commitment
of the community to be taken up the indicators towards the 2015
AID bird says with authority, "these are usual issues and teething
problems which the Treasury Boss will resolve in his usual clever
style and in the end the government will prevail and MCC will relent,
for whether there is community commitment or not, despite public
officials taking joy rides and budget items being substituted, and
better quality Chamber and NGO proposals being left out, for Sri
Lanka can only go up the indicators ladder and not down and thus
worthy of aid investment".
someone who once lived in and ruled the nation from the Highest
Echelons not say that, "God is a Sri Lankan and he will look
after Sri Lanka's interests and take the country out of the mess
even at the very last moment?" Was tsunami God's way of pushing
Sri Lanka to the brink of disaster and picking it up at the last
minute with a hefty pack of aid? Therefore it matters not whether
the Millennium Challenge Grant is there or not! The unanimous verdict
of the birds', "tsunami aid or not the nation and its people
must demand accountability from those responsible, if the Millennium
Challenge Grant flies away or is wasted away without tangible results".
Wise Old Owl wakes up from its deep sleep and decides to forget
the bad dream that he just remembered about a meeting of birds!
(The writer, a respected business leader, could be
reached at - firstname.lastname@example.org).