Kerry-Lugar aid: US double-counts old projects to inflate aid numbers

Published: January 8, 2015
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Officials in Pakistan would like the US to pledge more money and to do so for larger projects that have greater economic impact. STOCK IMAGE

Officials in Pakistan would like the US to pledge more money and to do so for larger projects that have greater economic impact. STOCK IMAGE

ISLAMABAD: 

When it comes to aid for Pakistan, American bureaucrats like to engage in double counting to make the numbers look bigger than they really are. Despite legislation that commits the United States to offer $7.5 billion in aid to Islamabad after 2009, it appears that Washington wants to count $266 million of its pre-2009 aid as part of the amounts disbursed under the Kerry Luger Berman aid program.

The Obama administration has included seven pre-Kerry Lugar projects on its list of Kerry-Lugar-funded projects. As of the end of 2013, the United States Agency of International Development (USAID) booked $357 million in expenses towards these projects, including $266 million that were incurred between 1997 and 2009. The total projected cost of these projects is $481 million, and they form part of the $4.4 billion that the US has so far pledged under the Kerry-Lugar aid package.

The revelation of this double-counting comes days before US Secretary of State John Kerry, who co-authored the legislation that bears his name, is scheduled to visit Pakistan on January 12. Kerry is scheduled to meet Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to discuss bilateral economic cooperation.

The Obama administration’s move highlights the differences of opinion between Washington and Islamabad when it comes to the structure and design of US aid programs to Pakistan. Officials in Pakistan would like the US to pledge more money and to do so for larger projects that have greater economic impact. US officials, on the other hand, like to count any money that would be disbursed to Pakistan as part of the aid they pledge, leading to significant double counting. Washington also has a preference for smaller projects so that a wider number of people see the USAID logo “from the American people” in Urdu and other local languages, and feel gratitude towards the United States.

Some experts believe that while the Washington can include pre-2009 programs as part of the Kerry-Lugar aid package, pre-2009 disbursements should not be counted towards the $7.5 billion amount that Washington is committed to under the United States Partnerships with Pakistan Act of 2009.

A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Islamabad did not respond to requests for comment. The economic affairs division of the finance ministry was also not aware of the reasons behind the double-counting, but officials at the ministry said they would take up the matter with USAID.

Some of the double-counted aid includes the amounts announced as part of US aid in the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake, including $135.5 million of the $142 million Pakistan Construction Project that was disbursed prior to 2009. US-based construction firm Camp Dresser and McKee, International Inc executed the project.

Among the pre-2009 projects included in the Kerry-Lugar list was the$13.4 million World Health Organisation-administered Polio Eradication Program that started in 1997. USAID is counting the $6.9 million of in-kind aid it gave as part of the Kerry-Lugar disbursements. Also on the list is the $21.8 million UNICEF-administered Polio Eradication Program. This scheme began in 2004 and $10.6 million in disbursements were made before 2009.

USAID has included a mysteriously named and undefined project named Program Support – All SO worth $119.8 million in its list of Kerry-Lugar funded projects. The project started in 2002 and $54.1 million were disbursed in the pre-KL era. The purpose of this project was not clear and it is implemented through the US Embassy in Islamabad.

A $140 million Pakistan Transition Initiative-IOM 2007 has also been made part of the KL disbursements, of which $45.5 million was released before 2009. The merit and need based scholarship project of 2004 is yet another old project included on the list and $7.7 million of pre-2009 aid has been treated as part of the KL Act.

Of the $6.8 million due for the 2005 Field Epidemiology Laboratory program, the US gave $5.75 million in the pre-KL era.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • AVMPolpot
    Jan 8, 2015 - 3:27AM

    Pakistan can two time US in the War on terror but…
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    US cant even double count? If US had any guts there would hv been no KL post OBL discovery.

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  • shah
    Jan 8, 2015 - 3:34AM

    hey I thought Pakistanis wanted trade instead of aid anyway

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  • Jan 8, 2015 - 4:41AM

    If you don’t like it reject the money!

    Its not like Pakistan deserves the money it is getting. After years of sheltering the Taliban, Pakistan has contributed to Afghan, American and the death of its own citizens.

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  • JSM
    Jan 8, 2015 - 6:39AM

    Why not make a table of funds received from USA and publish it?

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  • Marcos
    Jan 8, 2015 - 9:12AM

    It should be renamed as Sharif-Army fund. Since the money always go to Sharif family or Army Generals.

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  • Ashraf
    Jan 8, 2015 - 9:29AM

    A new order for another 50 nukes is likely to go out any time now. Who cares about the hundreds of thousands starving in Tharparkar.

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  • Old Ravian
    Jan 8, 2015 - 9:33AM

    USAID, in all forms, is another name for bribe given to politicians, generals and bureaucrats to serve US interests. There is little money for development of common masses.

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  • Rauf
    Jan 8, 2015 - 9:46AM

    @BruteForce:
    @AVMPolpot:
    It’s America’s money not yours. Do you have a problem?

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  • No
    Jan 8, 2015 - 9:53AM

    So out of the 4.4 billion aid which was outright grant by USA NOT soft loans – some 200 million odd was double counted. Also unlike coalition support fund, this retired Pakistan to take actions against Haqqanis and LeT which Pakistan did not do. So it is unclear what Pakistan FO was uptight about.

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  • Jibran
    Jan 8, 2015 - 9:58AM

    Modern beggars have some strange ways!

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  • saln2
    Jan 8, 2015 - 10:42AM

    Its not Aid.. It’s compensation money for giving shoulder to US in Afghanistan which has caused PAk loss millions of dollars and thousands of lives

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  • AVMPolpot
    Jan 8, 2015 - 11:04AM

    @saln2: ” Its not Aid.. It’s compensation money for giving shoulder to US in Afghanistan which has caused PAk loss millions of dollars and thousands of lives”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    So its compensation for mercenary acts of Pakistan…army for hire!

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  • Gp65
    Jan 8, 2015 - 11:26AM

    @saln2:
    It is aid. You are confusing Kerry Lugar Bill with coalition support funds.

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  • Tyggar
    Jan 8, 2015 - 12:06PM

    @Rauf:
    It’s America’s money not yours.

    Exactly, its America’s money, not yours

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  • Rauf
    Jan 8, 2015 - 1:22PM

    @Tyggar:
    Regardless faking money that is being given is dishonest and should be brought into public. Its funny how many Indians get mad when Pakistan receives reimbursements.

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  • Bewildered
    Jan 8, 2015 - 1:45PM

    Look at the anger of Indians over USA why Pakistan is being given assistance as if the money is theirs. The problem with Indians is that they are the most malevolent, hate filled, jealous people on earth, and couldn’t see their investments being wasted if Pakistan gets out of the troubles they covertly and overtly created for Pakistan using their own money. It is US public money, and the US government never invest it where they couldn’t get returns of several times, let alone waste it on the basis of meaningless ideas like philanthropy, charity, benevolence, at least not in billions of US dollars.

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  • woody
    Jan 8, 2015 - 6:31PM

    Kerry Lugar bill was an agreement by Republican/Democrats on aid to Pakistan – not a treaty between the USA and Pakistan. If you don’t like the conditions that accompany the payments then just say “no thanks”. Pakistan military has never liked his bill because it attempted to insure money was used to help ordinary Pakistani’s – American taxpayers never liked this bill because Pakistan was notorious of misusing international aid – pretty sure the Foreign Relations committee attempted to “de-fund” this bill after OBL debacle.

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  • Panda
    Jan 8, 2015 - 7:00PM

    The Kerry Lugar Berman bill authorized Congress to appropriate UP TO $7.5 billion (not “promised to give $7.5 billion”) for this 5-year period in civilian assistance to Pakistan. This is a key distinction which is conveniently twisted in this article…

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  • kanwar Puri
    Jan 9, 2015 - 2:04AM

    Pakistan does have a right to refuse aid as Hillary Clinton said.It is amazing, you are begging and complaining at the same time. Beggars can not be choosers. Either learn to live within your own means or shut up and be happy with what you get in your begging bowl. Grow up for God sake.

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