Competitiveness Support Fund: Pakistan to terminate joint venture with US

Published: March 28, 2012

Doubts expressed over project’s real motives.

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan has decided to close down a joint venture with the United States on the pretext of funding constraints. However, sources allege that Washington was using the project as a cover-up for spying.

The Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) was jointly launched by the US and Pakistan in 2006 to provide technical assistance to place Pakistan on a more competitive footing globally. CSF will, however, terminate its operations from March 31, sources said.

The main objective of the CSF was to enhance competitiveness by providing technical and financial assistance to small and medium enterprises.

Reliable sources, however, say that for the past few years foreign nationals were brought in as consultants but were involved in ‘suspicious’ activities. They also said that some were on exorbitant payrolls with one alleged to be an employee of the Pentagon.

A senior government official involved with its operations and requesting anonymity called the CSF a slush-fund. He, however, did not share the nature of these alleged activities.

US Embassy’s spokesperson Mark Stoh said: “It is a ridiculous allegation: that someone under the Pentagon’s payroll was brought in under the cover of a consultant.” He admitted that the Government of Pakistan approached the US and said it did not require the funding for the joint venture anymore.

On the contrary, an official document available with this scribe states, “The United States Agency for International Development declined to fund matching grants, and without donors’ funding it will be difficult for the Government of Pakistan to continue the CSF.”

So far, the US has provided $11.6 million assistance under the programme, while the government itself has provided $837,000.  CSF’s Chief Executive Officer Shahab Khawaja was not available for comments as he is said to be on a tour abroad.

One of the members of CSF’s Board of Directors Kamran Yousaf Mirza said the government thinks the venture is no longer serving the purpose it intended to. He said the Board evaluated the decision and came to the conclusion that the government, being the majority shareholder, could terminate operations.

According to the same assessment of the Government of Pakistan, “The CSF has not developed any sustainability plan.” Citing reasons for the fund’s failure, the paper states that the “CSF was told to change its direction from SMEs support to policy support and the impacts of policy support were non-visible.”

The paper also raised objections over the appointment of the last CSF CEO Arthur Bayhan. “The CEO was not hired in a transparent manner and was appointed by the USAID without concurrence from the government,” it said.

The paper lists some of the domestic and international consultants hired from 2009 to 2011 and their lucrative packages. Mohsin Khan (former IMF official) was hired for 80 days at $35,000 while Sakib Sherani, former principal economic adviser of finance ministry, was hired for 144 days at $57600. A comprehensive list of foreign and local consultants is available online.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 28, 2012 - 10:32AM

    This program was used by Pakistani bureaucrats to benefit each other through consultancy agreements. Big pay, no work. Tell me one objective they achieved since its inception??? The Chairman retired from the GOP a couple of years ago, what is he doing in such lucrative appointment post retirement???? Can somebody explain?????

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  • Truth
    Mar 28, 2012 - 11:23AM

    It’s more of a corruption support fund.

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  • Syed Farrukh Hussain Shah
    Mar 28, 2012 - 11:26AM

    Its true every american on Pakistan soil are covered operatives of CIA, Mousad etc….they have nothing to do with humanity,just like in afghanistan,they have killed children,and peeing on dead taliban fighters…

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  • Skin Taj
    Mar 28, 2012 - 12:05PM

    well this is good sign…to look into matters to make sure who is Friend & Who is FOE !!! without getting paranoid or without bias…but this is the time we should actually do things which are for PAKISTAN !!!!!!!!!

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  • MarkH
    Mar 28, 2012 - 1:15PM

    @Skin Taj:
    Read it again. Paranoia is at the center of this action.

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  • Faisal
    Mar 28, 2012 - 1:16PM

    Corruption Support Fund ……. Well Said !!Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Mar 28, 2012 - 2:32PM

    Brilliant, this is all the effort of Gen. Pasha! its been more than a year since ISI started shouting on this topic which allegedly was a cover for espionage and hence proven!

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  • Amir chaudhry
    Mar 28, 2012 - 4:12PM

    I am waiting when Pakistan cancels the principal agreement of USAID and break this myth that Pakistan is run on Aid.

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  • Cautious
    Mar 28, 2012 - 5:47PM

    Kudos to Pakistan — how about sending those F16′s back as well.

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  • Mar 28, 2012 - 7:40PM

    @Cautious:
    Pakistan paid for the F-16s they didn’t come FREE from the Americans a.k.a International Bullies.

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  • Nasir
    Apr 22, 2012 - 2:26PM

    @Tehreek-e-Insaf FATA: Pakistan got the F16s because the US paid us under a direct military assistance fund. The bottom line is successive governments have made Pakistan into a beggar nation and for your information Maulana Imran Khan will not end this assistance in 90 days. Also you may be right that the US are international bullies but have you ever realised what Pakistan is known as internationally by the rest of the world? – I will leave it to your imagination

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