The Right Way to Rebuild Georgia

At the October 22 donors’ meeting on Georgia, aid pledges rolled in, totaling $4.5 billion. But the process was deeply flawed, and it overlooked the need for inclusive and dynamic growth, without which sustainable peace will remain elusive, leaving donors hard pressed to justify actually committing the large financial aid package that they have pledged.

NEW YORK – At the recent donors’ meeting on Georgia, aid pledges rolled in, totaling $4.5 billion – about $1,000 per citizen of Georgia. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the meeting was restricted to donors and Georgia’s government, with Transparency International criticizing its opaque decision-making process.

Lack of transparency and accountability in how money is spent in wars, and in the rebuilding that takes place after them, no longer play well with taxpayers. In light of increasing global demand for aid and falling supply (down 12% over the last two years), its effective and transparent use is becoming more imperative. And governments that are not accountable to their citizens will most likely fail in this regard.

Before these “pledges” become “commitments,” donors should carefully examine Georgia’s economic development strategy and assess its plans for humanitarian and reconstruction aid. They should ask whether aid for Georgia contributes to peace and stability or, on the contrary, whether it will impede a political solution to the conflict and keep investors away.

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