The Carter administration's effort to insure congressional cooperation in formulating foreign aid policy has led to some concern among other nations that contribute funds to help poorer countries.
The concern is the unintentional result of the administration's willingness to make future contributions to international lending agencies subject to congressional appropriation.
This development - which has resulted in a specially called Paris meeting on Feb. 25 to attempt to iron out the problem - surfaced during testimony yesterday by C. Fred Bergsten, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury-designate for International Affairs.
Bergsten was appearing before the subcommittee on foreign operations of the House Appropriations Committee, largely to follow up on his testimony last week before a Senate committee in which he asked for $540 million supplemental appropriations for fiscal 1977 for international lending agencies.
Yesterday Bergsten also requested appropriations of $2.6 billion for operation of the major development banks for fiscal 1978, of which $1.6 billion would require actual budgetary outlays.
Included would be $375 million for the third installment of the fourth replenishment, and $800 Million for the first installment of the fifth replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA), the soft-loan affiliate of the World Bank.
Other major amounts are for a selective capital increase for the World Bank, and contributions to the Inter-American Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
The thrust of Bergsten's testimony last week was that the U.S. intended to pay its fair share of a growing world aid bill, and, that the U.S. moreover, desired to restore a sense of credibility to its aid commitments.
But on another level, Bergsten said the Carter administration would agree to abandon a number of technical procedures that had irritated Congress in the past.
One of these changes would make U.S. contributions to all international lending agencies "subject to appropriation." That means U.S. pledges must be validated by later congressional appropriations, Bergsten's explained.
One such item is a supplemental request for an overdue $55 million payment for the fourth IDA replenishment, included in the $540 million total. It is closely related to the $800 million request for fiscal 1978, the first of three such requests now planned to be made for the fifth IDA replenishment.
Bergsten told the House subcommittee that, "in all candor," the requirement to make such contributions subject to appropriation "has caused some uneasiness on the part of other major donor countries."
In essence, both donor and recipient countries wonder whether this requirement further clouds the willingness of the U.S. to meet its IDA obligations. The $55 million now sought is more than a year overdue for the fourth IDA replenishment.
Bergsten pleaded for early action - meaning appropriations - on the fourth IDA and other supplemental requests.A negotiating session on the fifth IDA replenishment is scheduled March 14 and 15 in Vienna.