Welcome to the IGO Watch Monthly Update for August.
Before we get into the highlights of IGO activities around the world and ridiculous examples for this month, we wanted to share some news with our supporters. David Wiliams, President of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, visited Australia this August. David met with IGO Watch partner, the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance (ATA), and other Australian thought leaders, discussing the disastrous effects of the new silicone ban proposed by the EU and the danger of it being applied internationally. We are delighted by the enthusiasm for stopping this ban and the support we have so far received.
It seems every week brings about another scandal at the beleaguered World Health Organization (WHO). This month the WHO’s internal auditors investigated serious allegations of corruption and fraud within their office in Yemen. Millions of dollars in supplies and money from aid programs have gone missing or been diverted to the coffers of local officials on both sides of the conflict since the start of the civil war. According to internal documents, unqualified people were placed in high-paying jobs, millions of dollars were deposited in staffers’ personal bank accounts, dozens of suspicious contracts were approved without the proper paperwork, and tons of donated medicine and fuel went missing.
Sadly, this is just business as usual for the WHO. Under WHO rules, aid fund can be transferred directly into the accounts of staffers. This is a measure that in theory was meant to speed up the purchasing of goods and services in a crisis, but in reality has allowed the former chief of the WHO office in Yemen to directly transfer cash worth a total of $1 million for certain staffers. The same person is alleged to have hired a university student and a former intern for well-paid posts, but their only actual duty was to care for his dog.
In light of the new corruption scandal, we must not shift our focus from the WHO’s inadequate handling of the Ebola crisis in Africa, and the staggering fact that it took them 50 weeks from the initial declaration of cases by the DRC Ministry of Health (on 1 August 2018) to deem the outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Tried and Tested
It has actually become more of a surprise when the United Nations (UN) isn’t in the news for scandalous behavior than when it is. Ignoring the serious allegations of corruption and fraud within one of its agencies, the UN tried to shift the blame for the disastrous aid situation in Yemen to the lack of promised funding from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
It seems that corruption has deep roots within the UN system, despite the constant protestations of high ranking officials, stating that the UN has no tolerance for corruption. Members of an “inner circle” in the top management of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency are accused to have engaged in “abuses of authority for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives”. These allegations have fortunately started to have serious consequences, as New Zealand announced that they will put their funding to the UNWRA on hold until the end of the investigation.
To understand the full scope of how UN bodies and agencies steal taxpayer money and cover it up for years and years, we only need to look at the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Russia. Dozens of former UN employees, auditors, and consultants have been flagging concerns for nearly a decade about mismanagement and alleged misappropriation of millions of dollars in international funds from the GEF to no apparent effect.
This comes as no surprise, because, for decades, climate issues and fearmongering have presented a way for the UN to receive millions of dollars from international donors for decades. Their climate models of doom are slowly but surely being debunked.
Let’s Tax Everything
The newly proposed European Union’s (EU) flight departure tax suggests a 7 € per passenger flight tax within all Member States. With nearly 1.5 billion departing air passengers a year, it would cost the European consumers 10 billion € a year and likely ground many Europeans’ plans to visit friends or study abroad. This would seriously hurt the tourism industry and the millions of people who rely upon it, as well as seriously hinder innovation within the aviation sector. The Consumer Choice Center , an IGO Watch partner, have started a campaign to fight this tax and save affordable flights in Europe. Please visit their website to see what you can do to stop this tax.
When it comes to excise taxes on certain goods, the EU requires member countries to levy a minimum excise duty, Only a few EU countries stick to the minimum rates, while most countries have decided to levy much higher excise duties. Our partners from the Tax Foundation have created great graphical representations of excise duties on beer, gas, and cigarettes in different EU countries.
See Something? Say Something!
We’re always looking for regional coordinators from countries around the world to help us distribute information on social media, write blog posts and op-eds, and provide us with on-the-ground information from their region.
If you have any tips about stories, or would like to become a regional coordinator, please send us an email at this address!
Until next month,
IGO Watch Team