Monday, January 11, 2010

Asian Development Bank just whistling in the wind

The Asian Development Bank, the large multi-lateral development lender that never gets coverage in the press, has today unveiled new provisions to protect whisteblowers who come forward in the fight against corruption, which is endemic in many of the countries where the ADB operates.

But I doubt such provisions will make any difference.

The construction industries in countries like Indonesia and Vietnam operate solely through kickbacks and bribes.

If the ADB wants to lend money to fund infrastructure projects in these places, it cannot avoid getting its hands dirty at some stage. So, like all multinational organisations operating in corrupt countries, the ADB makes sure that it is separated from the inevitable backhanders and dodgy deals by a couple of degrees - what the CIA calls "plausible deniability".

So the ADB and the governments it works with subcontract out large projects like dam or power station construction to international consultancies (what they call "involving the private sector") who then bring in local consultants (what they call "knowledge transfer"), who bring in their own sub-consultants to hand out the brown envelopes and hire in the hookers (what they call "leveraging on local expertise").

I don't particularly blame the ADB as I know from people working in the construction and development sectors in Southeast Asia that you cannot change such an ingrained system overnight.

The problem is that the ADB gets such little press coverage that most people don't have a clue about the extent of the problem.

1 comment:

  1. ADB's main protection against whistleblowers is it's ability to simply ignore or deny(without offering any evidence)the facts presented by the whistleblowers. This is especially so when the whistleblowers' allegations refer to corruption within ADB itself and involvs senior ADB personnel. Transparency is of little value when the deeds are made known but no action is taken. And given their immunity from legal process, it is not possible to require ADB to act on the information. They are above the law. Internal ADB fraud and other corruption has been proved on more than one occassion but no action taken. When faced with court action they merely invoke their immunity. I believe that only a change of attitude by the funding member countries can correct this problem.