Sunday, 15 April 2007

Wolfowitz in hot water

As if things couldn't get any worse for World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, it was announced today that aid to poor countries was projected to be down for a second year in 2007.

Aid to poor nations will probably decline for a second year in 2007, setting back efforts to halt the spread of AIDs and reduce poverty, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said today.

Poor nations received $103.9 billion in development assistance from the governments of wealthy nations last year, down 5 percent from the previous year and the first drop since 1997, according to the World Bank.
Africa, where 300 million people live on less than $1 a day, would be hard-hit by the slowdown in giving, which puts into jeopardy a two-year-old promise by developed nations to double aid to $50 billion by 2010.

Wolfowitz is already embattled in controversy, and his job is at risk. He was one of the original neocon hawks pushing for the Iraq war within the Bush administration when he was Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2005. He had some of the more destructive ideas and policies for the Bush administration's "war on terror".

In 2005 he was nominated by the US to president of the World Bank — which meant he was practically guaranteed the presidency. This nomination met opposition from big economic names like Jeffrey Sachs and Nobel prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz. However much Wolfowitz is tough, especially on corruption, he still was probably not the right man to lead one of the largest international financial organizations — one that provides aid to developing nations.

Earlier this month controversy surrounding his personal life sparked into a scandal, one that is threatening his job. He apparently gave his girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza, who worked at the Bank before Wolfowitz took power, a pay raise (leading her to make more than Secretary of State Condi Rice, whom she now works for because of her status as the World Bank president's partner). It is all a bit complicated, however. The World Bank is currently reviewing the case and may ask Wolfowitz to step down.

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