Thursday, December 9, 2010

Buying New Beds for Burning House

Everyone knows that the European countries are all having severe money problems. Greece and Ireland have required help to stay afloat, Portugal, Spain and Italy are suspected to be next in line and recently even France has had accusations of potential economic crisis to deal with. Of course, on top of everything else dealing with at the moment, Belgium has also had to quickly deny charges that financial crisis could be imposing over the country. The debt is huge, the financial obligations gigantic and EU President and former premier Herman Van Rompuy has recently had to try to put fears to rest about the Belgian economy. It also does not help that there is still no government to handle this and Yves Leterme is even walking out on reporters instead of answering question. If a major crisis is about to happen or no there is still no denying that the financial situation is in a critical state.

Because of that it seems not at all ordinary to me that the Belgian Foreign Ministry has just announced that Belgium will pay 14 million euros to our former colony of Congo to offset the cost of upcoming elections in the country. The foreign minister called this pay out, "preventative diplomacy". Next year the Congo will have a presidential elections and in the immediate years there will also be parliamentary, provincial and municipal elections that, like all elections everywhere, will naturally cost some money. In fact the total cost is estimated to be some 540 million euros. Given that total, 14 million euros may not seem like much, other countries and European Union will be paying about half the total cost of the Congolese elections, but is this a wise decision by the Belgian government? Considering the dangerous position of the Belgian economy is it affordable or wise to send 14 million euros to the Congo for political contests?

Only recently King Albert II and Queen Paola were in the Congo to participate in their celebrations of the anniversary of independence from Belgium. Does independence not mean anymore that they pay their own costs? This is like the teenager who moves from his parents home but still calls asking for money to pay the bills. In a way this is what King Baudouin warned the Congolese about when he handed over their independence to them. Independence means a country is to carry its own weight and not depend on others. This 14 million euros represents dependence and not independence. I cannot see the wisdom of spending any amount when Belgium is drowning in debt to help a country that for most of these last decades has had a hostile attitude toward Belgium, blaming all problems on their former colonial power but at the same time expecting always help in return.

How about this idea: Belgium can keep the 14 million euros and instead we send the Congo Yves Leterme, even throw in Herman Van Rompuy as a free extra to solve their problems. There are even more I would be generous to give to the Congo instead of the millions of euros.


  1. Interesting story -I don't have to tell you the U.S. is doing the same. In general I have a problem, under any circumstances, the idea of politicians sending their people's money to other countries but it does seem especially absurd when so many western countries are up to their eyeballs in debt. I also fully agree about the 'dependence-independence' divide. The fact that a country with the natural wealth of the Congo needs such massive foreign aid to function would seem to prove that (shock of shocks) they were not really ready for independence.

  2. Yes, if they need money to function they really are not independent then. This frustrates me when times are so bad to give money away to other countries, even when they insult us and blame us all the time. In fact, Congo has only become worse since independence and what little benevolent actions are done there are the workd of Belgian or international charitable societies and not the Congolese government.