PH surprised by France foreign aid blacklist

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 28 2013 03:37 PM | Updated as of May 28 2013 11:37 PM

MANILA - Malacañang is surprised over reports that France has blacklisted the Philippines as one of the "non-cooperative states" in investigating foreign aid fraud.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that the Finance department is getting more information on it, adding that the matter was not mentioned in instances when the Philippines was working with the French government on "several initiatives" in the finance sector.

"We'd like to get the scope of the factors that they considered when it came to that particular conclusion because some donations particularly for foreign aid, hindi naman po 'yan din lahat sa government binibigay. There are NGOs that also are the recipients of grants… So we'd like to get muna the universe of what was considered before we respond to it," Valte said.

An Agence France-Presse report said France has drawn up a blacklist of 17 countries including Switzerland that do not help investigate foreign aid fraud, banning the use of their banks to help distribute development funds.

Aides to development minister Pascal Canfin were unable to say how much French foreign aid currently transits via banks in the countries featured on the new blacklist.

The blacklist expands on an already-established register of eight "non-cooperative states and territories" that already includes Botswana, Brunei, Nauru, Guatemala and the Philippines.

It adds Switzerland, Lebanon, Panama, Costa Rica, the United Arab Emirates, Dominica, Liberia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vanuatu.

The officials justified the move by saying there was a lack of transparency in the nations on the list, adding that poor and developing countries were often the main victims of fraud.

"The aim is primarily preventative, to put pressure on these countries by publicising this list to progress towards more transparency," they said.