After all it’s not their money!

Carrying on with the theme of a bureaucracy operating without oversight, there is this article from the Calgary Herald.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is responsible for the bulk of Canadian aid spending and devotes its funds to a host of worthy causes in just about every part of the developing world.

Yet a perusal of the agency’s projects reveals that CIDA has been making startlingly free with taxpayers’ money.

Take the Baltic nation of Estonia which has a flat tax and runs one of the world’s most wired and competitive economies. Between 2002 and 2005, CIDA, in partnership with the Toronto District School Board, spent $800,000 on immersion programs to teach the country’s Russian minority to speak Estonian.

The Czech Republic received $22 million from CIDA between 1990 and 2004, at the same time that the Czechs were receiving billions of dollars for development projects from the World Bank and the European Union in preparation for the nation’s accession to the EU in 2004.

Poland received $61 million from CIDA the year it joined the EU, despite the fact the Polish government politely tried to decline the gift.

There are worse examples. CIDA gave China $57.14 million in aid in 2004-05 and plans to continue shovelling money into that country for the rest of this decade.

CIDA’s program involves using “Canadian experience and expertise” to support Chinese reforms in good governance, democracy, human rights and environmental sustainability.

With an active space program and the capability (demonstrated earlier this year) to destroy orbiting satellites, China hardly needs Canadian technological know-how. True, Canada could teach China a thing or two about democracy and human rights; the Chinese government is notorious for locking up people who preach either, but CIDA forges ahead with funding anyway.

It would seem that CIDA has a budget of lots of taxpayers’ dollars to spend and therefore they spend it with no regard to whether or not projects funded have merit or obviously whether the recipients even needed the funding in the first place.

Of course it is the old dilemma for the bureaucrats: If they don’t spend the money then next year they probably won’t get as big a budget. If their budget is cut their ministry shrinks and if the ministry shrinks it lessens the position of the senior bureaucrats and may even lead a decreased salary level.

Mind you, it was ever thus. Many (many) years ago I worked for CN Telecommunciations and there was always a fiscal year end rush to spend any dollars that were remaining in the budget. Being young and naive at the time I thought that if you had done all of your planned projects and had money left in the pot that it made much more sense to let the unused portion go back into the system. But, from top to bottom, that isn’t how a bureaucracy works.

Unfortunately.

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