Washington to change its foreign aid mission radically Less money means greater reliance on private donors

March 13, 1996|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON - The Clinton administration announced a radical transformation yesterday in the way the United States will use its dwindling funds to help impoverished and developing countries overseas.

Assailed by Congress for spending too much and by industrial allies for spending too little, the administration promised to cut its foreign aid missions abroad, concentrate on helping fewer countries and work more closely with private organizations engaged in the business of economic development. The administration promised to help countries free themselves of foreign aid and generate wealth by participating in world markets.

Under the revamped program, administration officials, facing the reality of a hostile Congress, would make clear that the United States no longer regards itself as a major donor of funds but instead as a vital source of know-how and a force for development. According to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spends a smaller percentage of its gross national product on foreign aid than any other industrial country.

Under the plan, the number of countries helped would drop from 120 in 1993 to 75 in the year 2000. Only a few of these would enjoy programs fully staffed by U.S. government aid officials; some would have no staffs at all.

Congress has appropriated $5.7 billion for the Agency for International Development this fiscal year, a cut of 15 percent from the total appropriated in 1995. U.S. sources said that the transformation probably would not affect the sensitive programs of countries like Israel and Egypt that eat up a huge portion of the annual foreign aid budget.

Protection of those programs, which are in place for political rather than developmental reasons, has meant that all unprotected programs have been cut 30 percent.

Pub Date: 3/13/96

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