Lack of coordination delaying Kerry-Lugar funds

ISLAMABAD: Lack of coordination among the authorities concerned in Pakistan and the United States is delaying the disbursement of funds under the Kerry Lugar Law (KLL).

Although the law was passed by the US Senate on Sept 24, progress on implementation has been slow, sources in the finance ministry told Dawn.

“Basic issues like procedures for finalisation and execution of projects are still under discussion,” an official said, adding that delays were politically damaging for the government.

“The delay … is preventing the launch of many social sector projects,” he said.

The US ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, had acknowledged that there were misunderstandings on both sides about how the funds were to be released.

In a meeting with reporters, she had said Pakistan would get $800 million by March. There is a general perception that after the passage of the law, yearly civilian US aid to Pakistan would triple to about $1.5 billion for the next five years.

However, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin told Dawn that the US authorities had said that Pakistan expected to receive only $500 million under the Kerry-Lugar programme.

“Funds for projects under the programme will be received before June this year,” Mr Tarin said, adding that efforts were being made to streamline coordination between authorities in both countries. According to a senior finance ministry official, the main hurdle for the approval of projects was lack of coordination between US administration officials.

“Robin Raphael, David Lipton and Richard Hoolbrooke have different approaches about allocation of funds,” the officials said.

Richard Holbrooke, the US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, supports the idea of executing all projects through the NGO sector in Pakistan.

Robin Raphael, who is expected to oversee non-military US support to Pakistan, supports granting funds for projects through the Pakistan government. She recently scrapped a working paper to grant projects worth $300 million to NGOs through the USAID, the sources said. David Lipton, director for international economics, National Security Council, is a strong advocate of executing development projects under the Kerry-Lugar programme in areas affected by militancy.

The situation in Pakistan is no different: there is no single agency for coordinating with the US administration. Officials said the finance ministry had asked the Economic Affairs Division to ensure coordination, but most of the projects were being prepared by the Planning Commission without any coordination.
Moreover, the US has also delayed payments under the Coalition Support Fund.

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