DR Congo: Auditors criticise EU's aid

Congolese civilians near Goma, 2 Sep 13 War has displaced many civilians in eastern DR Congo

Many EU projects aimed at building justice and good governance in the Democratic Republic of Congo are failing to deliver results, European auditors say.

The EU "needs to improve significantly its aid effectiveness" in DR Congo, the European Court of Auditors says.

Their audit covered the years 2003-2011, when the EU granted about 1.9bn euros (£1.6bn; $2.6bn) to DR Congo.

The vast mineral-rich nation is plagued by poverty, corruption and conflict.

Congolese and UN troops are currently fighting M23 rebels near the eastern city of Goma.

For decades the authorities in the capital Kinshasa have struggled to quell insurgencies and hold the country together.

In response to the auditors' report, EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said it was "premature" to judge projects which had not been completed.

He noted that progress had been made in areas such as police reform and elections, even if more work still needed to be done.

The auditors said: "Fewer than half of the programmes examined have delivered, or are likely to deliver, most of the expected results.

"Sustainability is an unrealistic prospect in most cases."

They criticised the design of EU programmes aimed at developing good governance in DR Congo, saying local risks had not been properly assessed in many cases.

The auditors also urged the European Commission to tighten up monitoring of such programmes, to ensure that money was not misspent.

They noted that fraud and corruption remained big problems in DR Congo and that EU aid should be targeted accordingly.

The report said that "although the country is facing a difficult economic and budgetary situation, and low salaries are one reason for the inefficiency of government departments, MPs' salaries were increased from 1,500 US dollars during the transition period to 6,000 US dollars in 2006 and 13,000 US dollars in 2012.

"In 2011, spending on the Presidency, the Prime Minister, the National Assembly and the Senate accounted for 11% of total budgetary expenditure and was almost three times the amount spent on health."

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