More Haste, More Korupsi

Recent reports that Australia has so far only spent $10 million of the pledged $1 billion to rebuild Aceh after the Boxing Day tsunami shouldn’t be cause for concern. It’s one thing to respond fast in providing food, water and emergency shelter (which the international community, particularly the US military, did). But for big construction projects, it probably makes sense to take a little more time, if it ensures that a smaller slice of the money is siphoned off into corruption. In other contexts, Harvard researcher Ben Olken estimates corruption in Indonesian antipoverty and construction projects to be 8-18%. While some of Australia’s $1 billion will clearly be lost to corruption, we probably don’t want to lose as much as $180 million.

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