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International aid between reality and claim

Date & time : Saturday, 2 June 2018

 Ghazal Alyazidi

International aid is one of the support operations of donor and well-offcountries towards the needy countries, whether for the purpose of filling the budget deficit and achieving development programs or for exceptional circumstances such as a response to a disaster. The assistance would be in providing financial and in-kind resources in its diversity, carried out in accordance with the protocols of international relations. And because of that more than one goal is achieved based on the goals desired to be achieved, whether to deepen brotherly ties and diplomatic harmony between two countries or as a kind of reward for cooperation previously achieved.

Sometimes, when the support continues a long period, this type of assistance may cause the big receiving countries to be influenced by donor countries due to their direct engagement with them and the dissemination of their culture. In addition, some donor countries breach the internationally accepted protocol in the provision of international grants and assistance for humanitarian purposes, exploiting this situation for its undeclared objectives, such as access to facilities and advantages that serve its interests in an unfair manner.

The start of provision of grant in its known form was in 1947, after the Second World War, what was known as the Marshall Project for the reconstruction of European countries, after the damage and destruction caused by the wars. Therefore, grants were initially disbursed for the construction and restoration of war-damaged infrastructure projects. Subsequently, many international organizations and bodies were established which started to achieve development goals. And these grants were extended to include the developing countries and provide support to them in order to contribute in supporting development projects and community development such as eradicating illiteracy and poverty.

Foreign grants and assistance are one of the most important sources of foreign support to countries suffering from crisis and unstable conditions. Where many well-off countries spend a total of hundreds of millions annually, under the clause of foreign aid, to contribute to the advancement and development of countries with strained economic situation.

It is important to note that grants differ from assistance, where grants are considered as financial and in-kind donations that are given and are not refunded in any way. While assistance takes many forms, among themis concessional loans, which must be repaid as previously agreed.

In general, assistance is disbursed in the areas of development, humanitarian and charitable fields. Assistance or foreign aid is divided into cash aid, which is financial transfers and capitals. Technical assistance, includes external technical support such as sending experts, teachers, trainers and technicians to give more skills in various fields. Indirect assistance, which is the governmental privileges granted to a certain country such as tariffs and tax exemptions. Finally, in-kind assistance, which is commodity assistance such as food aid and technical and technological assistance.

International aid takes many forms. For example, grants are often made for humanitarian purposes such as emergency response, like natural disasters and relief. Grants that are provided for medical purposes to reduce and eliminate outbreaks of some infectious diseases. Grants provided for military reasons aiming atmaintaining peace and security in some countries, such as international peacekeeping forces. And it should be noted that when financial grants are given as a loan to be paid then it is not considered a grant but financial assistance.

One of the biggest problems facing borrowing countries is the failure to repay their debts and that’s because of the lack of optimal utilization of borrowed funds. In other words, the loans didn’t succeed in providing a satisfactory profit return from their investment after repayment of the loan, or even enough to repay the loan. For example, some financial assistance in a number of countries has not produced the desired results to improve their economic situation, where financial assistance, which is reliant on loans, doesn’t contribute in reducing the country’s deficit and improving its economic situation. This in some cases leads to a country waiving the proceeds of one of its resources for a long period of time in order to repay some of its financial debts. In other words, the economic situation of some developing countries has become more severe than it was years ago, due to the accumulation of their debts and the deterioration of their economy, because of the increase of their debt and inability to pay the value of their previous loans. This led to the dependency of some developing countries on the countries that provide them with assistance, due to their inability to pay all their dues and be released from the chain of debts.

In addition, there might be exploitation by some countriesand international organizations that give grants to developing countries. Developing countries may be forced to adopt the international political positions of donor countries, whether with conviction or not, to ensure continues support and assistance. Also, some donor countries rely on developingones, to provide them with cheap labor, primary resources, and agricultural products, etc., as a kind of privilege to them.

There is no doubt that financial and in-kind aid, whether grants or loans that are repayable, is of great benefit to needy countries when it is best exploited, as investments in economic projects and human development.

Some of the reasons for the provision of international aid are that countries are working to maintain long-term relationships between them, and not just transitory cooperation that doesn’t affect the future of their mutual relations. This is the approach adopted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in supporting and backing its brothers, from the neighboring and friendly countries, to improve their situation and rise from their crises.

Finally, when the borrowing country obtains aid from one of the donor countries to support and implement one of their projects, provided that workers in the donor country receive a large proportion of the project jobs, or impose difficult loan repayment terms, this limits the borrowing country’s authority and the benefits obtained from this aid. Here the damage from this aid may be greater than its benefit rate. And this is similar to the complex requirements of some donor bodies and international organizations, which hinder their direct and illogical intervention in how countries manage their aid and achieve their intended benefits from the aid.

 A writer in International Relations and International Organizations *

@G_Alyazidi