Aid in Mongolia
There is a lot of donor money going into Mongolia. The question is whether it is good to have so much aid coming your way and whether the aid that comes is actually good in itself. Morris Rossabi recently wrote a book “Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists” in which he argues that foreign donors actually have seriously disrupted Mongolia, rather than helped the country.
I think in general aid is something to be highly critical of. It often lacks efficiency and effectiveness. But maybe the picture that Rossabi paints is a bit too dark. That – at the least – is the opinion of Bill Bikales. Currently a principal economist for the Asian Development Bank, Bikales has worked in Mongolia for many years. And there is no doubt he doesn’t like the book. His review starts with “People beware...” and he claims the book to be a diatribe. But what he says actually makes sense:
“The book’s exaggeration of the role of the donors obscures one central fact: Mongolia has emerged as a truly self-governing and independent country for the first time in centuries.”
Whether you agree or not, the review is an interesting read and gives some good insights in foreign aid Mongolia. You would have to read the book to see if Bikales is right.
The complete review is available online
Reaction from Bill Bikales
I have no problem at all with criticism of aid. I have been a strong critic of it myself, and I am on record as saying that bad foreign aid is the greatest threat to Mongolia's future. But Rossabi's book is much more than a criticism of aid -- he presents a very bleak picture of what is happening in Mongolia, repeats gossip about individual Mongolians and about events that are inaccurate and unfounded. I deliberately avoided trying to defend foreign aid in my review, because I felt it was far more important to point out that Mongolia is doing much better than he suggests. My review is NOT about foreign aid, it is about Mongolia!!!
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