Congratulations Chairman Stephen Twigg

on your appointment as International Development Select Committee Chairman. You have big shoes to fill–former chairman and my favourite Liberal Democrat Malcolm Bruce (Vince Cable was one of my favourites left a large legacy.

Here’s Stephen Twigg’s bio and how he fits in with international development:

–Former Director, the Foreign Policy Centre (2005-2010)
–Work for the Aegis Trust / Holocaust Centre genocide prevention charities including in Rwanda (2005 – 2010)

It’s not much but I like this line:

“International development is not just about aid. That is why the Addis Ababa summit is so important, ensuring the sources of finance available to grow businesses in the least developed countries are expanded. Key priorities include infrastructure, public services and trade.”

So well, he’s pretty new to the subject matter but not a total alien.

Welcome, Stephen Twigg.

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What’s new with ODA and the UK armed forces

Suddenly defence journalist Jonathan Beale is surprised to find out that HMS Bulwark’s operation to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean is paid for by the Department for International Development (DFID’s) budget, or what we development people know as Official Development Assistance (ODA). What’s so surprising?

…. Drum Roll …

Operation Patwin’s (UK military response to Typhoon Haiyan) was counted as ODA and borne by DFID’s coffers

DFID has always reimbursed the MOD for Humanitarian and disaster relief work, even before the 2010 Conservative-Liberal Democrat Alliance and before the cuts-filled Strategic and Defence Security Review (SDSR)–see Baroness Northover’s reply.

Yes, the UK armed forces has been hit hard, yes DFID has an arbitrary target (as does NATO member states), but no, what on earth is new about DFID taking up the costs of HADR work? Celebrate don’t call it interesting!!!

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Good to see Desmond Swayne back

where he belongs at DFID (see also very first phew tweet)

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She’s Greening back in her department

After hours or several days, David Cameron re-appoints Justine Greening as Secretary of State for International Development. The long wait is probably due to him trying to think if he should place DFID back under the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or possibly to appease his extreme right wing Conservatives a bit–it’s no secret they hate the name DFID and even more detest the rigid and outdated 0.7% of GDP/GNI aid target.

Oh well, at least there’s continuity. Greening can continue, not in any particular order, he drive to:

1) Help create a global post-2015 set of Global/Sustainable Development Goals,

2) Launch another Multilateral (and possibly Bilateral) aid review (and her the sound bites from Mary Creagh),

3) Pour more Official Development Assistance into trust funds/”non-core” aid (yucks and yay),

4) Increase the role of the private sector in DFID’s programmes (and attach a we bit of neoliberalism with it),

5) End aid to India (as promised) and possibly to more “IDA-graduating” countries (same as point 2),

6) Place more focus on fragile/conflict/weak states (that would make aid as a tool for national security, will that break the OECD and DFID rules?),

7) Reduce aid to the EU (her colleague Philip Hammond would want that),

8) Work with China on the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB),

9) Continue to plan out future International Development Association (IDA) replenishment (link to point 2),

10) and many others.

Any other thoughts?

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Some people still don’t get the AIIB or…

they are dumb neoliberals or just dumb.

Take is crappy forum page article for instance by a certain Mr. Teo (Singaporean or someone from Singapore).

IT IS regrettable that the United States and Japan have not joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) because they are afraid that China has the intention and clout to shape the new world order (“Banking on infrastructure of the future”; April 20, “S-E Asia and the shaping of China’s new world bank”; last Thursday, and “China-led bank ‘to fill funding gap, but hurdles remain'”; yesterday).

First writer, you don’t start off with a clear argument why it is regretable that the US and Japan don’t want to join. Then you write some supposedly omninous statement–“the new world order” as if the AIIB is about a black government. Are you saying China is a “black government” ready to take over the planet” with the AIIB?

This has indirectly cast a shadow on the structure and administration of the AIIB.

What an idiotic line First you say it is regrettable due to the threat of a new world order. But is it to you or is it “indirectly”? Make up your mind!

The US worries about whether the AIIB will weaken the governance, operations and efficiency of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

One, is the World Bank and IMF really efficient? I what sense? Helping to advance development? Evidence? And how do you know the true mind of the US?

It is also concerned about the AIIB’s governance standards and China’s environmental and social complications.

However, these fears have yet to be proven true.

This is call shooting-yourself-in-the-foot. Say it in one word!

China, as the initiator of the AIIB, needs to clearly put on the table the core framework and detailed plans of the AIIB development programmes.

What? You think the creation of an international orgainsation is like a magic trick? How about you read about the creation of the International Development Association (IDA) if you even know what that is?

It also has to identify and lay down how it is going to fairly and transparently distribute its capital and development funding, to allay the worries and suspicions of all the founding members.

Ahem, 57 nations have signed up. How many of them have “worries and suspicions” whne you started off with two countries who declined to join?

China has a long journey ahead and a lot of hard work to do.

Idiotic since it is uncessary.

The mark of the AIIB’s success is whether China can convince all the founding members to cooperate, work and contribute seamlessly and assiduously towards the principal objectives of the AIIB, and thereafter, share the fruits of the harvest.

Wait, do you even know why the AIIB was proposed in the first place? Or are you some dumb neoliberal?

Asean should persist in its longstanding policy of neutrality, non-alliance and non-interference (“AIIB may ‘speed up Asean plans for fully unified economic bloc'”; yesterday).

Irrelevant–see below.

It should not get involved in the hegemony and tussle of the superpowers.

Why? Who are you to say that?

Most importantly, Asean should focus on the core priority of economic development, especially infrastructure development.

Why? And besides, ASEAN has that objective in mind since its beginning. But it can’t exactly reach that, due to the political and cultural differences of each member state.

Nevertheless, I hope Singapore, with its good track record, expertise and experience, can play an active role in setting up the AIIB.

It can help to bridge the cultural differences and communication gap between China and the Western member countries.

Perhaps the regional headquarters of the AIIB could even be based in Singapore.

Wait, this is really weird. You start off with moaning the US and Japan for not joining the AIIB, cause that might be a way to a “black government”. Then, you attack China for not detailing the AIIB’s details, when in democratically accountable IOs, it is not just one state to detail the Articles of Agreement (if you know what that is!). Then you jump to talk about ASEAN with no logical flow. You abruptly then say that the AIIB should be based in Singapore with no logical argument, with a one liner about brining the gap?!!!

Please please, some one write a logical forum letter on the AIIB next time…

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AIIB headquarters location should not like those of past MDBs

While the argument that “S’pore should be AIIB’s regional headquarters” (April 11) has merit, it should be up to the planners and the final list of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank participants and shareholders to decide on the bank’s headquarters.

First the writer arrogant implies that the AIIB’s headquarters should be in a country with pristine financial excellence. He fails to note that other regional development banks, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the African Development Bank, are headquartered in less developed cities such as Manila and Abidjan, yet have a pretty successful development record.

Second, the writer cites Beijing’s poor environmental record for why Singapore should also host the AIIB. That is an unqualified and against arrogant argument almost suggesting that polluted cities should not be centres for development banks. Manila is not exactly a lean, non-polluted city, but that did not stop the ADB from being hosted there. New York isn’t exactly a clean city in many areas, yet it hosts the main United Nations Headquarters!

China, the proponent of the AIIB, will most likely be the strongest shareholder. In my view, the AIIB should not be in a city that of a dominant superpower, or it will risk becoming another International Bank for Re-construction and development (IBRD), or even a International Development Association (IDA). Time will tell though.

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The AIIB, a new MDB… Remember the past

I suppose it’s time for me to add my voice to the range of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which has been hitting the headlines globally. I wanted to start off with an explanation of this proposed idea but their already is a website. It’s a pretty good detail of the rationale for setting up this new Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) for Asia.

As expected there’s has been stiff opposition by the US to the creation of this People’s Republic of China (PRC)-led MDB. The US has unsuccessfully tried to stop key development assistance providers such as the United Kingdom (UK), the Nordic countries and even G20 member states like Indonesia from signing up. The typical US line is that this is a 1) this is a Chinese initiative 2) China has never been fully transparent in its international financial forays/investments or development finance 3) the whole idea is a plan to usurp already well established MDBs like the World Bank/World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or Regional Development Banks (RDBs) like the Asian Development Bank (AsDB).

All this US-versus-the-rest tussle reminds me partly of the creation of the World Bank Group (WBG)’s International Development Association (IDA) and subsequently, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Most people assume that the World Bank is, well an entire entity and US-controlled organisation. They also assume that the UNDP is well, the UNDP. Not many know that the World Bank Group is actually five different organisations and one of them, the IDA, has a deeply inter-linked relationship with the UNDP. In fact, the entire World

The UN has been, in its history, was less noted for its contributions to the international or global development arena. In actual fact, the World Bank and the wider World Bank Group is in fact part the UN system. To truly understand this, one needs to walk back to the 1950s and 1960s, or what can be termed the “First Development Decade”. A good summary can be found on Jerry Silverman’s posts on his blog, In particular, read, The UN System and the WBG similarities and differences, The UN System and the WBG 40s to 50s, The UN System and the WBG 60s to 70s, establishing the World Bank and the IMF and history matters growing the UN and its specialised agencies. (There may be others, do search his blog). With respect to books, three major books cover the history the formation of the IDA and then the UNDP. These are, Jolly, R., Emmerij. L. And Ghai, D., 2004, UN Contributions to Development Thinking and Practice, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, Murphy, C.N., 2006, The United Nations Development Programme: A Better Way?, Cambridge: Cambridge University and Stokke, O., 2009, The UN and Development: From Aid to Cooperation, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Ok, what exactly is the similarity between the IDA’s creation (and then the UNDP’s) and now the debate over the AIIB? First, the IDA was a US-backed initiative back in the late 1950s to stop the creation of a development finance agency, then known as the Special United Nations Fund (SUNFED). SUNFED was and initiative within the UN General Assembly, especially the developing world. Under much political pressure from the US, the IDA was created to replace the creation of the SUNFED. Thus all ensured that global development finance would be under the high US shareholder MDB–the World Bank (then mainly the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)). SUNFED shortly afterwards became the Special Fund, and together with the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance (EPTA) later merged together to form the UNDP (Jolly et al. 2004: 73-84; Murphy, 2006: 57-65; Stokke, 2009: 94-129, Chapter 7).

The formation of the IDA and the UNDp shows what could happen if US political/hegemonic dominance prevails. At present, it seems likely the US can’t repeat its “no-SUNFED-have-IDA” act with regards to the AIIB. The AIIB howeer, has yet to be fully formalised. Th US may continue to voice its protests and thus hasten governance and development reform in the two US/Western dominated MDBs, the WBG and the IMF (The Business Times (Singapore), 2015, “New Urgency for governance reforms at IMF and World Bank”, The Business Times (Singapore), 2015, 9 April 2015, p. 32). This may pressure the AIIB’s Articles of Agreements (AoA) and its future governing structure to be oriented to “Western”/OECD- norms. The US hegemonic dominance thus may succeeded here. A second option is that the Us may in future, grudgingly applied to be a shareholder/member of the AIIB, and thus be able to influence it to conform to /OECD/”global” standards. Again, the US may “succeeded” in maintaining its neoliberal Global Economic Governance (GEG) system.

What next for China and other potential AIIB members who share the “Chinese route” for GEG and finance? Would they bow to US (and perhaps Japanese) interests and make the AIIB like most MDBs are–transparent but still reeking elements of neoliberalism? Would it be left as some Chinese development aid agencies are, not well structured, but “soft loan” like? The future lies in the whole governing structure of the AIIB.

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