PH not in French foreign aid blacklist - official
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is not among the countries the French government has blacklisted for not being cooperative during investigations over foreign aid fraud.
This was according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario who have sought the French government for clarification over the news that "surprised" the Philippine government.
The May 27 report adding Switzerland and 16 other countries to a blacklist that has existing 8 countries, reportedly already including the Philippines, was "totally inaccurate," Del Rosario had said, according to Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte on Wednesday, May 29.
In the press briefing on May 29, Valte recited Del Rosario's announcement, which stressed that he has been "officially advised that this information is totally inaccurate."
"A full denial of this misinformation has been made by the French Foreign Minister," he said.
"With relevance to the aforementioned blacklist, we have in fact been informed that there is a new list and this list does not include the Philippines," he added.
"The mistake apparently arose from a interview of a civil servant by a French newspaper."
Countries in the blacklist are banned from using French 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 expanded on an already-established register of 8 "non-cooperative states and territories" that already includes Botswana, Brunei, Nauru, Guatemala and the Philippines.
It added Switzerland, Lebanon, Panama, Costa Rica, the United Arab Emirates, Dominica, Liberia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vanuatu.
The French 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 publicizing this list to progress towards more transparency," they said.
It comes hot on the heels of a damaging scandal involving Jerome Cahuzac, a former budget minister who was once in charge of fighting tax evasion but admitted to having a secret, foreign bank account after months of denial. - Rappler.com and Agence France Presse