Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Does World Bank Ensures Accountability To Its Loans?

I wrote a critical article titled “Does World Bank Sees What Happens To Its Loans?. For some strange reasons, this article of mine was censored by Google. Of late Google has been censoring views and opinions that are critical to Indian government. For instance, articles on Aadhar project and UIDAI are frequently censored by Google. Thanks to the draconian cyber law of India, this is now possible without following any due process in India. I am reposting this article so that Google can censor it one more time and I can repost it once again.

Loans are granted by international organisations and institutions for the development of a nation. But it is a rare occasion when such loans are actually utilised for the development of such nation. On the contrary, such loans just ensure the personal development of ministers and bureaucrats and common man never receives the benefits of such loans or grants.

Recently the World Bank and Indian government signed a loan agreement of $150 million for the e-delivery of public services in India. The loan has been granted as the e-delivery of public services development policy loan to be utilised under the national e-governance plan of India (NEGP). However, the bigger question is would this loan be utilised for the benefit of common man?

Keeping in mind the past record, the answer seems to be in negative. India has a poor track record of e-governance utilisation and providing of electronic delivery of services in India. We have no legal enablement of ICT systems in India and legal framework for e-delivery of services in India is also missing. In fact, as per e-governance experts of India, e-governance in India is dying. Without a mandatory e-governance services in India, e-delivery of services in India cannot be achieved.

According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of India, “The Government and Indian Bureaucrats need to change their mindset and stress more upon outcomes and services rather than mere ICT procurement. India needs a services-based approach that is not only transparent but also backed by a more efficient and willing Government. Presently the Bureaucrats and Government of India are in a “resistance mode” towards novel and effective e-governance policies and strategies and they are merely computerising traditional official functions only. This is benefiting neither the Government nor the citizens and is resulting in wastage of thousands of crores of public money and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Bank Grants amount”.

“The Governmental will and leadership is missing in India. To worsen the situation the Government of India is concentrating more upon the image rather than upon the end results. The grassroots level action is missing and the benefits of ICT are not reaching to the under privileged and deserving masses due to defective ICT strategies and policies of Indian Government. India is suffering from the “vicious circle” of defective e-governance, as the basic input .i.e. governance itself is poor. India needs a “virtuous circle” of e-governance through good governance that would have multiplication and amplification effect upon e-governance efforts of Indian Government, says Praveen Dalal.

E-delivery of public services in India is missing and World Bank is not at all interested in establishing transparency and accountability in Indian NEGP. World Bank must ensure accountability of Indian NEGP in order to show that its loans are actually meant for growth and development of Indian masses rather than benefiting few politicians and bureaucrats as is happening right now.

The loans granted by World Bank must be tied up and accountable loans. These loans must be tied up with performance and achievement and must be released in stages only. Once the first stage is accomplished satisfactorily then only the next stage loan must be given.

However, neither World Bank nor Indian government is in a mood to actually utilise the granted loans for the betterment of Indian masses. Why and for whom these loans are granted would always remain a big question.