Wednesday, January 14, 2009

With success, comes more questions from other countries

An aid program run by Canadian government has some politicians questioning it's practices.

Canadian companies can apply to the program if they are planning on creating jobs in poverty stricken countries. But, what politicians are questioning is why aid money is still going to China.

Further audits of the program find that only 15 percent of it's projects actually create jobs in the undeveloped world. That's 15 percent of out of 721 projects totaling $1.1 billion dollars.

In this Canadian Press article found from the CBC, the complaint is detailed and we hear from the businessman who created jobs in China.

Foreign aid officials and critics alike are asking if a program that helped Canadian firms make icewine and lingerie in China is the best way to fight global poverty.

A Niagara winery received $108,000 to study icewine prospects in China under the same business partnership program that gave $103,000 to a Montreal company that makes women's underwear.

Critics have questioned why the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) still sends aid to one of the world's emerging economic superpowers.

The agency's industrial co-operation program, which matches Canadian companies with job-creating partners overseas, has been an especially broad target for skeptics and auditors.

Official with the government said the use of the funds is now being reviewed.

"We want to make sure that our aid dollars bring results — maximum results," said Jean-Luc Benoit, spokesman for International Development Minister Bev Oda. "If this program either needs to be overhauled or moved somewhere else, that's what we'll do."

Charles Pillitteri, son of former Liberal MP Gary Pillitteri, said his winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., applied to the program after his father left politics. The vineyard is billed as one of the largest icewine producers in the world.

Pillitteri Estates received $108,263 over two years ended last year to study the potential for a joint icewine venture in Xinjiang, an autonomous region of northwestern China.

"The CIDA program actually went very well," Pillitteri said in an interview.

He can understand the skepticism raised by the program's track record. Byzantine paperwork and dealing with an entirely different culture half a world away are likely deal-breakers for firms not committed to the long haul, he said.

But Pillitteri said his company has spent many times the amount of federal cash it received and will exceed its proposal to create 30 full-time jobs in China.

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