Foreign Aid Would Increase Under Bush’s Proposed Budget; Critics Say Boost Still Not Meeting Promises, NPR Reports
President Bush in his fiscal year 2006 budget proposal requested a 13% increase in foreign aid, which some experts are "praising," but others say Bush is not "giving the kind of attention he's promised to the developing world," NPR's "All Things Considered" reports (Kelemen, "All Things Considered," NPR, 2/10). Bush's budget proposal includes $3 billion for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which was created to administer funds for the Millennium Challenge Account, a program meant to encourage economic and political reforms in developing countries. Although the proposed funding is an increase of $1.5 billion over MCC's FY 2005 funding, the amount is less than the $5 billion Bush had planned for FY 2006 when he created MCA in 2002. Because eligible countries have taken longer than expected to develop funding proposals, the administration now expects to earmark $5 billion annually beginning in FY 2007. Currently, 17 countries -- Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Georgia, Ghana, Honduras, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu -- are eligible to apply for MCC funding (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/8).
Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, said that MCA is "more about spin than reality," adding, "[W]hile we live in our protected world of constant spin" in U.S. politics where leaders deliver "great speeches about a program that hasn't even spent a penny, the reality in the developing world is a disaster." However, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is a "bright point" in the funding initiative, Sachs said, according to NPR ("All Things Considered," NPR, 2/10). Bush's budget proposal includes $3.2 billion for the third year of the PEPFAR -- a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria to 15 focus countries -- about $300 million of which would go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/8)."[I]t's exactly that kind of program that shows if you really do practical things, you can make headway," Sachs said, adding, "It's just for a $12 trillion economy, a $3 billion program, while nice, is hardly commensurate with what we've promised and what we ought to be doing." Budget experts say that HIV/AIDS funding is "on track" but that the MCA is "vulnerable to cutbacks," according to NPR. "While there's been support for the Millennium Challenge Account, it is a new program, it has not spent any money, it is an experiment. So given the choice between the two, the HIV/AIDS initiative has received higher priority," Larry Nowels, a foreign affairs specialist at the Congressional Research Service, said ("All Things Considered," NPR, 2/10).
The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.