US to stick with 'Transparency' aid monitoring mechanism despite Pak govt's objections

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Islamabad, Oct 30 (ANI): Despite the Pakistan government's objections over the Transparency International's latest report on mounting corruption in Pakistan, the United States will continue with its anti-fraud agreement signed last month with the global watchdog to ensure corruption-free spending of the 7.5-billion-dollar Kerry Lugar aid in the next five years, its Embassy spokesman has said.

After the latest TIP report which saw Pakistan climb to 34th position in corruption from the 42nd last year, the Gilani government had unleashed a severe attack on the TIP, blaming it for generating what it called unauthenticated reports to destabilise the democratically-elected government of Pakistan, The News reported.

In a rare move, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira reportedly said that the government had already served a legal notice on the TIP for producing what he called a baseless report on Pakistan, the paper said

The information minister is also reported to have said that USAID and some other agencies were funding the TIP, and that the government questioned the very basis of the report, it added.

When asked whether the USAID, which last month signed an agreement with the TIP to monitor the spending of Kerry Lugar funds, would continue working with it despite the Pakistan government's objections, US Embassy Spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said, "As far as I know, yes."

Rodriguez, however, was reluctant to comment on the government's onslaught against the TIP.

"I do not have information on what the government has said regarding the Transparency International. We have signed an agreement to monitor the aid. This does not constitute an endorsement of the corruption indicators," he maintained.

In September, the USAID had entered into an agreement with the TIP, under which the entire Kerry Lugar Bill aid was put under a strict monitoring regime to be supervised by the watchdog organisation.

This agreement would ensure that all procurements of the USAID funds are made under the Pakistan Public Procurement Rules 2004 by all government and non-government organisations (NGOs). Citizens and civil society organisations will be provided with awareness through print and electronic media for enabling them to report corruption that they may witness in the USAID funded projects.

Under the agreement, an "Anti-Fraud Hotline" will be established by the TI Pakistan, where corruption related complaints in the USAID funded projects can be registered through the web (internet), email, fax, telephone or by post. The USAID would provide the TIP a sum of 3 million dollars for the job. (ANI)

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