Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Effects of the new aid modalities on Tanzania

Jeremy Gould, The New Conditionality- The Politics of Poverty Reduction Strategies

In this book, Gould argued that the change in the new modes of credit, development aid and conditionality affects the relationship between actors in the recipient country also with the donors itself. In operational terms, he looks how the formulation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP’s)- a new form of ‘processual’ conditionality built into the ‘partnership’ concept- has affected relations between creditor, state and civic (non-state) actors. The transformation of the new mode of modalities has created a condition that Gould called as Populist Neoliberalism. In which Populist Neoliberalism means as practices that permits the designers of neoliberal measures to invoke the ‘voice of the poor’ in tacit support of their policy without subjecting these measures to representative popular assessment serve to legitimize a depoliticized, technocratically driven policy machine. (P.37-38) I would say that this more inclusive method of neoliberalism posed more danger due to its undemocratic yet hidden aspects, which is in line with Goulds findings.

In Tanzania a new aid partnership based on the harmonization of aid and further multilateralism had gradually consolidated among aid agencies and Tanzania government since 1997. A major feature is to some extent an increase of inclusion of several private, non government actors in direct decision making. This is by far due to the new conditionality of consultation, championed by the World Bank and other, had established a moral leverage which non state actors can be included in framing public policy. Forms of public participation such as informal consultative civil society shadow meeting in Dar Es Salaam in 1997, and led to ad hoc non state participation in the PRSP zonal and national workshop in 2000. But the contribution of non state actors were actually do not necessarily need to be taken into account in policy making. This occurred when the PRSP drafter ignored the TCDD/PRSP input, thus buried the critical views of nationalist advocacy group under the blanket silence. Meanwhile the more broader participative mechanism under the zonal workshop was conducted in a haste and critical voices is unnecessary to accommodated. Thus seeing the timeframe of the fast PRSP formulation until the completion point it is easy to conclude that instead of a genuine participatory mechanism, all the process of participation were mere a legitimizing the technocratic and partnership and prioritizing public expenditure to be funded by grants and loans (p.30-31).

Poverty Monitoring System (PMS) showed the most institutionalized form of incorporation of highly selective non state actors in the policy community. It is also an example of transnationalization of public policy process, which includes the changing relations between ‘local’ and ‘global’ configurations of civil society. Two points emphasized by Gould are; first, the depoliticization of policy feedback as ‘independent professionals’ take over responsibilities in brokering communication between policy makers and target populations. Excluding or crowding out the elected representatives and the statutory structures of the policy oversight. Second, the PMS enacts as a catalyst for realignment of relationship within the non state sectors, whereas the private aid agencies, successfully capitalizing the opportunities laid down due to consultation imperatives. The PMS opening for the non state actors mainly occurred in the DSA (Dissemination, Sensitization and Advocacy) Group and the R&A (Research and Analysis) Group inside the PMS mechanism. Furthermore, the PPA had been the place where transnational aid agencies significantly represented while the non state groups were crowded out in the policy forum.

Gould’s interview to the PPA researcher revealed the undermining of the statutory political structure in this policy due to distrust towards the one party system character which is perceived as undemocratic. Furthermore, the professional character of the TPAA and the mechanism of fast track democracy also preferred. In the long run, PPA may became an exemplar for a new mode of professional habitus in the Tanzanian context, thus became more important as a site of forging alliances, professional habitus, political strategies than as an instrument of poverty reduction. But unfortunately the role of TPAA’s might rather be seen as contributing to the legitimation of the populist neoliberal hegemony because their actual impact on policy substance is negligible (p.39). The content of the PRS itself lack of coherency, due to its one dimensional focus on social investments without parallel attention to productivity (manufacture, agriculture), also due to its unchallenged neoliberal market fundamentalism key elements in the core of the policy.

The TPAA is also an arena of ‘disciplinary power’ through instruments of ‘capacity building’ and ‘empowerment’. On their structure mechanism, the civil society is to organize itself into a self disciplined ‘civic bureaucracy’ that mirrors and engaged with the depoliticized pro poor partnership policy. Inside of that structure, the civil society umbrella organization, supposed to be held by TCDD, one way to another, fell to Mangonet and Concern influences. Both are policy advocacy organization in which Mangonet have grassroot network and Concern is a transnational private aid agency. In practice they disseminate neoliberal views of the Dar Es Salaam based policy elite through their new established grassroots network. Concern partnership with Mangonet includes to improve their technicalities of administrations. Because administration skills, on a certain quality, was perceive as improved capability. Thus weak capacity, legitimize foreign actor intervention in terms of introducing or enforcing standard of proper behavior. But bear in mind that the core idea of neoliberalism was never been contested. In broader sense, state reforms represent an attempt to build the capacity of ‘weak’ southern states to attain more responsible citizenship in the international community of liberal democracy. Gould argued that the populist trend of neoliberalism extends the reach of external regulation to the quality of the state-society relations as transnational agencies fund and implement schemes for building the capacity of civil society to participate in consultation, policy advocacy and other political progress. Therefore it is logic to counter the prevailing tendency by strengthening the technicality of NGO based on the structural criticism towards neoliberal key elements in line with efforts to campaign it to influence to policy.

The imperative of aesthetics discipline contributes to the depoliticization as well, it entails administration and process which is regarded as high quality even though the content is questionable. The rise of the civic bureaucracy makes it this possible. The structure of civic bureaucracy had led into a depoliticizing civil society, which policy discourse and feedback mechanism denied other real development problem such as: term of trade, industrialization, labour issues and instead swept all this issues under the euphemism of ‘pro-poor growth’. Therefore civil society in the process co-optated by the neoliberals mindset. Furthermore, transnational aid agency, which is empowered, penetrates the policy windows through the consultative imperative of the PRS. Unfortunately, Gould see that participation of civil society legitimizes expanded social services, but at the cost of marginalizing structural concerns; continued accumulation of unsustainable new debt; the deterioration of domestic production activity and of economic integration. All in all TPAA success in strengthens the depoliticization of development policy ends and means , and legitimize unsustainable debt, thus entrenching aid dependency. Plus, they contribute in consolidating parasitic class alliance at the core of the state with quasi feudal political power in the grassroots.

One more important feature of the depoliticized nature of new modalities, is the bypass of the parliament in the PRSP process. It is evident that populist neoliberals prefers ‘civil society consultation’ instead of statutory political structure as the main source of legitimacy. Gould believed that strong parliamentary oversight is needed to strengthen the ownership of such programmes and exercising their democratic policy sovereignity. In my opinion despite the distrust towards the undemocratic characteristic of one party parliament system, the legitimate accountability must derived from the most representative body in the statutory structure, thus paved ways for future’s better representative accountability in public policy.

In the end Gould argued that politics of PRS through the scheme of partnership has preserved Neoliberal key elements at the core of the policy, at the same time undermining political accountability and the democratization of public oversight. While the political consultation had either crowded out, silenced, coopted, domesticated civil society engaged. This leads to his recommendation that, the Non State Actor to strengthened the accountability mechanism parallel with ensuring criticism emerged; For the State sector, the national leadership need to forge alliances with more critical and productive middle class that can leverage negotiation position towards the donor; meanwhile the donors need to reconsider the importance of pluralism in political arena, also not to reduce the substance with technical imperatives of the policy process. One more important is for the democratic quality of the country need to be furthered. Also the criticism of parliament members to bring down the policy into political debate. Because oriented solely in results by undermining the accountability process will lead to further danger of democratic deficit.

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