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CIDA spending in Afghanistan is private information

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September 29, 2006

CIDA spending in Afghanistan is private information

by Hillary Bain Lindsay

Canadians curious to know how development money is being spent in Afghanistan are out of luck, according to the CBC.

Amir Attaran, a professor at the University of Ottawa, filed an access to information request as part of his research on the Canadian International Development Agency's (CIDA) spending in Afghanistan. CIDA has spent almost $300 million in the country.

He was told by CIDA, however, that they could not release the information because the money is being funneled through third party agencies such as the World Bank and United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Foreign agencies running the projects must now okay any information before it is released to the Canadian public.

Alasdair Roberts, an expert on government secrecy at Syracuse University, told the CBC that Canada could demand greater transparency from the World Bank and UNDP.

"There's nothing blocking the Canadian government from saying that we want audits for programs that are being funded with Canadian money and that we intend to release those audits under Canadian access law," he said.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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