Switzerland plans to continue working with an aid partner under fire in a British report for negligent development performance in projects in Africa. The Swiss invest the second-most money in the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), after Britain.
In a reportexternal link published on January 19, Britain’s parliamentary Public Accounts Committee stated: “We are concerned that the [government’s Department for International Development] has insufficient assurance over the integrity of PIDG's investments and the companies with which it works and…has not done enough to put a stop to PIDG's wasteful travel policies and poor financial management.”
In particular, the British report stated concern over PIDG’s booking of expensive business class travel after its travel policy was supposedly amended and wondered why the organisation had left money earmarked for development aid sitting in bank accounts instead of spending it. The report also called into question the integrity of the companies that PIDG works with, stating that the “complex corporate structures that PIDG's partners have sometimes established” make it hard to know who owns those companies and “create a risk that those involved may have criminal connections”.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), which helped found PIDG in 2002 and has contributed some $76 million (CHF70,000) in support, told swissinfo.ch that “investigations through PIDG, the British development agency and the [British] National Audit Office have indicated that based on the information currently available, there are no suspicious ties involved in [PDIG’s African projects]”.
In addition, a SECO spokesperson stated that “PIDG companies ensure that a full due diligence review of all infrastructure projects will be carried out.”
In light of those facts and PIDG’s “good results” which have created 200,000 jobs, the spokesperson said that Switzerland will continue to work with the organisation in the future.
In its factsheet on PIDGexternal link, SECO calls the organisation “an innovative public-private partnership” and states that it is funded by “a consortium of like-minded donors, including SECO… to mobilise private sector investment in infrastructure projects”.
PIDG was originally founded by Britain, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden and is now funded by development agencies from eight countries and the World Bank in order to work with on-the-ground partners to deliver aid.