G8 to discuss world debt while Scots lack basic financial understanding.Written by Richard Green
Last week saw launch of Scotland’s Financial Inclusion Forum, and with it requests were issued for local authorities, banks, and other financial institutions, to work together to generate and share ideas to help people take control of their own finances. Those attending forum were asked to help ensure, “that poverty is not exacerbated by lack of access to financial services”.
Deputy community minister, Johann Lamont, said: "It is simply unacceptable that in Scotland there are areas where as many as one in five people have little or no experience of using basic financial services so many of us take for granted such as bank accounts and insurance.“ "I expect banks, local authorities, housing associations, community planning partners, credit unions and other key players to work together to provide access to bank accounts and affordable credit; to make saving possible and help people understand and manage their everyday finances and ensure that information and advice are available when people get into debt." The new initiative is intended to provide £10m in support over 2 years in an effort to help 10 local authorities with worst problems to overcome concerns that prevent as many as one in five people in some localities opening a bank account or buying insurance.
African AidWritten by William Cate
African Aid By William Cate
Africa, like everywhere else in world, has its fair share of honest, intelligent; hardworking people who want to see their families have a better standard of living. Unfortunately, most of these people are living below poverty line. The reasons that Africa, with all of its natural resources, is an economic basket case are complex. They start with 16th Century Africans' failure to adopt an effective immigration policy. The result was European immigrants divided up continent without regard to historic tribal boundaries. The modern result has been tribal wars waged with modern weapons from Sudan to Rwanda.
After WWII, West's development schemes have been a long litany in stupid projects. A few of my favorite examples include: 1. The British Groundnut Project: After WWII, British found themselves with lots of heavy equipment that needed a use. The British shipped it to Africa and cleared thousands of hectares of tropical jungle. The idea was to grow peanuts and export them back to Britain. Nobody considered fact that soils in a jungle are lateritic and, once jungle was cleared, exposed areas quickly evolved into concrete parking lots. Not one peanut ever reached England. 2. The Americans Built Highways to Nowhere: After WWII, Americans built four lane roads in countries with less than one hundred cars. The local Government owned most of cars. Years later, I sat at a roadside food stand and counted three cars passing in five hours it took only bus to travel that road to pick me up. 3. If you think stupidity is limited to English speakers, consider that Norwegian Government granted US$25 million to build a fish-freezing plant in rural Africa. After plant was built, someone noticed that local people don't catch or eat fish. They herd goats. 4. The Soviets built a milk bottling plant in North Africa. The local people don't drink bottled milk and there is no way to ship milk elsewhere. The plant has yet to ship its first bottle of milk. 5. In East Africa, Yugoslavian Government built a factory to can mangos. The factory has a capacity that exceeds entire world's trade in canned mangos. 6. The Italians built a banana processing plant, but quantity of bananas needed for plant to breakeven exceed entire country's banana production. 7. The Americans designed and Soviet's build Aswan Dam. Before it was built, studies showed that by 2006, amount of new irrigation agriculture developed above dam would be offset by salinization of Nile River Delta below dam. Meanwhile, Egyptian population would grow and result would be a constant threat of national starvation. The studies were right.
Everywhere, politicians and bureaucrats produce nothing. In Africa and elsewhere, political system runs on axiom: What's mine is mine. What's yours we'll share. In all but four countries, upon independence a one party political system evolved with a single ruler. The result was instant corruption. When Mobutu Sese Seko left office, he had accumulated a $10 billion dollar fortune. He could have written a check and paid off Zaire's $7 Billion foreign debt and still had enough to get by amply in West. It isn't simply fact that almost all African leaders are corrupt and dictatorial, it's fact that most opposition party leaders are seeking office to rape country. The result is a political vacuum that makes it nearly impossible to help honest, hardworking Africans create a middle class and stabilize their country.