International financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank waste millions of dollars and support "a bunch of high-living international moneychangers who answer to no one but themselves," according to a study by the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign relations.
The 13-month study was released at a press conference yesterday by Reps. Clarence Long (D-Md.) and C. W. Bill Young R-Fla.) Long is chairman of the subcommittee and Young is ranking minority member.
The two congressmen alleged that the multilateral banks, which also include the Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank, are virtually unaudited in their spending of U.S. Foreign Aid dollars and unwilling to allow any significant scrutiny from Congress or the American public.
The 180-page report criticized several specific aspects of international bank operations, while the congressmen used the press conference to charge further that Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal, who serves as a governor on each of the bank's boards, has done little to alleviate the problems.
A Treasury Department spokesman said the department had reviewed the study, but "continues to feel as we have testified in the past that the multilateral development banks are an extremely effective channel for U.S. development assistance.
"The report focuses primarily on the internal processes of the banks (and) does not address the substantial results the banks have achieved in promoting development in the poorer countries." He added that the report did make some "usable recommendations, which we will review and adopt if practicable."
Specifically, the report charged:
The banks are poorly managed, and by the wrong people. They "operate more like private corporations than institutions operating in the public or semi-public sector."
No coordination of foreign aid. There is considerable overlap of projects between the various banks "in virtually all sectors."
The banks are politically motivated in the selection of projects, including a $124 million steel project that the report alleged was steered toward the home region of the then-president of Mexico -- whose name was deleted in the report, but whose son was alleged to be an official in the steel company.
The aid from the banks is not reaching the poor people it is designed to reach. The report cited one funded project that turned out to be significantly owned by already wealthy people, who were profiting greatly from the aid. Only 10 percent of that project was owned by other members of the public.
Rep. Long recommended that the American public be given more access to the banks' records, or threaten to cut back funding.