Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160-179)|
WEDNESDAY 24 APRIL 2002
160. Why do you not just take your money back
and spend it yourselves?
(Mr Chakrabarti) Because it is budgetised and we have
no control over it.
161. You have no control over that £709
(Mr Chakrabarti) We do not have control over our share
of that money.
162. Agreement is reached with the Council of
the Ministers that you will give that?
(Mr Lowcock) The European Parliament with the Council
of Ministers and the Commission have a budget every year. The
bit of the United Kingdom share of that which goes on international
development is a charge to the DFID budget.
163. You pay it over basically?
(Mr Lowcock) Yes.
164. The European Union has its accounts qualified
by the Court of Auditors every year because they lose £6
billion Sterling. Do you know how much of the lost EU budget is
attributable to international development?
(Mr Lowcock) I am afraid I do not have the budget
share in my head. We can give you a note on that. The Court of
Auditors study the area of international development and we have
worked with them because we have exactly these concerns on some
of the spending programmes.
165. At the moment you are saying that even
though you knownot thinkthat it is less effective
than spending the money directly in the DFID-sponsored way, you
have to spend it through this less effective EU way? That is what
you are saying?
(Mr Chakrabarti) Those are the rules of the game.
Chairman: Could you send us a note on this and
also one on fraud. It is quite an interesting subject.
166. If the note can be on both the mechanics
of the payments and chapter and verse of how they are arrived
at and why, and separately on the fraud.
On Page 41 in Paragraph 3.35 it says "Previous work by the
Development Assistance Committee"is that an UN Committee?
(Mr Lowcock) It is OECD.
167. "... failed to reach agreement on
what constituted a good governance indicator." Could you
explain why that is so difficult? I read something later on in
the Report about the death penalty. Is that what it boils down
to or are there other reasons for this? This is the bottom of
(Mr Lowcock) I do not know the answer to that. I would
have to check what the particular problems were.
168. I was addressing this to Mr Chakrabarti.
(Mr Chakrabarti) The OECD principles are all negotiated
by the OECD members so we would have to go back and check what
the particular issue was on that one and who was blocking the
169. Right. On page 40 there are these seven
key governance capabilities which seem fairly easy to agree upon
and benign. It is very interesting to think that even at the level
of agreeing what is good governance you cannot actually reach
(Mr Chakrabarti) Yes. Different members of the OECD
do have different views on this.
170. If you were able to let us have a note
on that, it would be very helpful.
(Mr Chakrabarti) We will do that.
171. Mr Chakrabarti, can I start by congratulating
you on your appointment.
(Mr Chakrabarti) Thank you.
172. Can I say that I applaud very much the
way in which your Department has started to focus very clearly
on poverty and to work in partnership with governments and to
focus very specifically on countries where poverty is most in
evidence. I have some knowledge of the work that your Department
is doing in India and I am delighted that the budget there is
due to expand greatly because, of course, I think India now has
40 per cent of all the world's poor in that country.
(Mr Chakrabarti) Yes.
173. I think it is absolutely right that the
Department has focused in that way. I think until latterly you
have received an extremely rough ride from this Committee and
I am sorry that has been the case on your first outing because
I think there is a great deal that your Department should be able
to tell us which is extremely positive about the way in which
the change in working practice is achieving very real results
for the world's poor. Can I start by asking you to turn to appendix
1 and to focus on the International Development Targets on Environmental
sustainability and regeneration. You talk there of implementing
national strategies for sustainable development by 2005, reversing
the loss in environmental resources. Can you tell us whether you
feel that target is on target to achieve that by 2005?
(Mr Chakrabarti) You pick one of the targets where
we do not actually have information as to whether we are on target
or not. It has been changed slightly but you get the same answer,
the target is now in the Millennium Development Goals, the environmental
sustainable target. We do not yet have a comprehensive assessment
of progress, unfortunately, but as soon as we do we will have
to feed you the information on that.
174. Thank you for that. You have identified
rightly the next area that I would be focusing on would be goal
number 7, and indeed target 9 of those. Do you recognise as a
Department, or perhaps it is better that I should say how do you
recognise at the Department that wildlife is a natural resource,
the loss of which threatens to push some of the poorest communities
in Central and Western Africa into food insecurity and deeper
(Mr Chakrabarti) Yes. I think as a statement I do
recognise that and the Department does as well. One of the issues
we are facing as a Department is how to get issues like thatwhich
I think, frankly speaking, the development people have not thought
very deeply about in the pastintegrated into our strategy
papers and so on. I see the WSSDthe World Summit on Sustainable
Developmentin Johannesburg as beginning to think about
some of those issues and trying hopefully to get better integration.
For example, in poverty reduction strategy papers, even the good
ones, some of those issues are missed off at the moment. We need
to try and work to get a better integration than we have had.
175. Again, you have anticipated me in the direction
of PRSP and what I want to ask you is what steps you are taking
as a Department within your participating poverty assessments
and the poverty reduction strategy papers to take account of wildlife
resources, bush meat and so on in those because I think this is
an area where we do not often see that taken on board in the PSRP
that the Department provides?
(Mr Chakrabarti) I think you are right. I think the
new guidance will encourage our staff to take those sorts of concerns,
and other environmental concerns as well, much more into account.
You have been following very closely what has been happening in
Botswana on the bush meat issue and if we had a large programme
in Botswanawe do not, of course, it is now a much better
off countrythat is the sort of issue that would have to
be integrated in the way we think about delivering assistance
in Botswana. Similarly, elsewhere where we do have large programmes
those sort of concerns come up and we need to do better and take
them into account and use, also, all of our UK resources, not
just the development programme resources, to try and tackle some
of those things. In the case of the bush meat issues, for me it
is quite interesting because I spent the first few years of my
career in Botswana, how the Government of Botswana is tackling
that and to what extent our high commission helped push them to
take it more seriously as an issue. We need to work within the
whole UK plc family on those issues.
176. Absolutely. Can I perhaps turn to one of
your country strategy papers, the strategy paper for Cameroon.
If I look at Annex 2 there. I appreciate you will not have this
in front of you, do not worry I do not expect you to have. In
Cameroon the strategy paper identifies forestry as really the
(Mr Chakrabarti) Yes.
177. It is absolutely integral to the natural
resource and wealth of that country and, therefore, it is the
way development is going to take place within that country. It
is the way in which that is being abused and exploited by the
Gombe system that is stopping the real development growth. Quite
properly that is the focus of this country's strategy paper. Annex
2 is the pre-programme targets. I think this meshes in very well
with some of the things that the C&AG and the NAO have identified.
One of those targets is to reinforce the protection of biodiversity.
It says "Make the necessary means available for poaching
control campaigns." Now, if I was being cruel to you I would
say what criteria do you have for assessing whether you are achieving
your pre-programme targets. In fact, I will not ask you that.
What I would point out to you is that there is no set of criteria
against which you are measuring the success of that target. Therefore,
it is very difficult in what I think is an absolutely excellent
country strategy paper to see that you can get beyond that pre-programme
stage. These sort of things I think the NAO report has helped
us to highlight.
(Mr Chakrabarti) Absolutely.
178. I would be interested to see the ways in
which you feel as a Department that you can move on from there.
It seems to me you have done extremely well on the focusing of
the objectives of the Department, the real concentration on the
less than direct aid pool, and you have set those objectives.
Where I think we see the Department perhaps less effective is
establishing the criteria for evaluating how it proceeds from
basic stage to basic stage.
(Mr Chakrabarti) I accept that. I think it is very
fair and I think the NAO brings that out very well indeed. What
we need to do is move away, if you like, from a somewhat flabby
assessment criteria like that to much more sharper, more attuned
criteria. The new guidance will help in that way but guidance
only takes you so far, of course. What I think we need as senior
managers to do is be pretty much on the ball, particularly in
the first set of country strategy papers which appear after the
guidance. If we get those right I think there will be a demonstration
effect to many more staff that we need to move away from that
sort of old fashioned criteria to much more clear precise criteria
in the future.
179. Can I ask you about the Environmental Impact
Assessments that you as a Department conduct on some of the improvements.
There is no reason why you should be aware but I tabled a series
of questions to the Department, one of which was about the Environmental
Impact Assessment that you conduct. In those assessments it is
highly unusual. I would say almost never does the Department take
account of the impact that your own work in the construction of
a road or the construction of a major infrastructure project has
on the local environment, with specific regard to the bio-diversity
of that environment and the reliance of the communities in that
area on that bio-diversity. This is an enormous weakness in the
Department's own planning about its development interventions.
(Mr Chakrabarti) If that is the case then we clearly
need to do better. I am afraid I have not seen those environmental
impact assessments so I cannot comment on the specifics, but on
the generality you are right, we do need to take more account
of the fact that bio-diversity is an economic asset for many of
these communities. It is not in the full blood stream of the Department
yet but it will be.
4 Ev 24, Appendix 1. Back
Ev 24-25, Appendix 1. Back
Ev 25, Appendix 1. Back