REPLY Aftonbladet's columnist Lena Mellin draws far too far-reaching conclusions from the National Audit Office's report that almost half of the budget for a project went to the company that was procured to administer the project. The company was procured in competition and the assignment involved more than just administration, Sida's CEO Charlotte Petri Gornitzka replies
Lena Mellin in Aftonbladet raises some questions about our mathematical knowledge in a column in today's Aftonbladet (18/4) based on one examination as the National Audit Office did by Sida. As always, we welcome the National Audit Office's reviews because it helps us to become even better in our work in the many times difficult environments we operate in. In the mentioned review, we receive much praise from the National Audit Office for developing a new system for working with assessments , control and follow-up of efforts in development assistance. Deficiencies and difficulties in handling will always exist as long as we have assistance - this is the case for everyone who works in environments with high risks. But we as donors are becoming increasingly systematic in our way of detecting and remedying. It shows not least our latest statistics report over suspicions of corruption in the development assistance that we presented on Monday (15/4).
In his column, Mellin chooses to highlight a case where half of the assistance goes to the "administration" of a so-called Challenge Fund. This is of course unusually high to be an aid effort, our own administration is for example about six percent. The program in question is the innovative Innovations Against Poverty, a global program where we distribute small grants to companies which in turn develop inventions that aim to combat poverty. This particular program, which is in a start-up phase, is about much more than administration. The company that is procured by us in competition also has the task of handling extensive application processes, making selections, assessing, following up, evaluating, reporting and building capacity of the small companies around the world that receive support. There are small but many supports, the risks are high and require extraordinary expertise.
We calculate correctly, but differently than we usually do, in this case.
Contrary to what appears in Mellin's chronicle, we have drawn attention to the problems and in most cases they have already been remedied.
When it comes to the water program in Kenya where the National Audit Office highlights criticism, these are shortcomings that we have in all cases discovered through our current control mechanisms, such as annual audits and reviews. Contrary to what appears in Mellin's chronicle, we have drawn attention to the problems and in most cases they have already been remedied. Follow-up of deficiencies takes place continuously. Sida never accepts that Swedish development assistance funds are used for incorrect purposes or for activities that have not been agreed.
When it comes to Sida's control of employees 'side jobs, we can only agree with the National Audit Office that we need clearer processes for how we try and document employees' side jobs. We have regulations for this, but started in January this year a project where we will review how the issue of side jobs should be further regulated, communicated and followed up.
The National Audit Office will thankfully continue to examine us and other parts of the central government, it is an important part of a democratic country's principles. Free media is also an important part of democracy. In a good journalistic spirit, we think that it should be obvious to take in information from several sources before too far-reaching conclusions are drawn from a report.
Charlotte Petri Gornitzka
Director General of Sida