Friday, August 28, 2009

Pakistan Uneasy About US Aid

President Obama has pledged almost $1.5 billion dollars to stabilize Pakistan, but the Pakistani Finance Minister, Shaukat Tarin, has complaints about how the aid is being delivered.  He flat out rejected the idea that Pakistan would accept any aid tied to increased monitoring of the country’s nuclear arsenal and urged the US to route money through Pakistani agencies instead of USAID.  In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr. Tarin claimed that “frankly, we only receive almost 50-55 per cent of the aid, 40-45 percent becomes expenses [because of intermediation costs by the US].”   The US claims that the administrative costs ensure that the money is being spent properly.

IRS Rejects Proposal to Redesign Foundation Tax Returns

The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, composed of 99 citizens from across the country, proposed that that the IRS modify Form 990-PF to accommodate the limited resources of small foundations.  The panel asked that the IRS create special forms, similar to the 990-N and 990-EZ that small charities use, to reduce the regulatory burden on small foundations.   The IRS rejected the idea, preferring to wait and evaluate the effectiveness of recent revisions to Form 990 before tackling the 990-PF.

Volunteering Falls, According to Report

Despite anecdotal evidence that the recession has led people to give more time in service, a survey conducted for the National Conference on Citizenship found that 72% of Americans were spending less time volunteering and engaging in other civic activities.  The Conference has compiled data as far back as 1975 and says that this is the first decline in volunteering since the recession in the early 1980’s.  According to the data compiled, volunteering typically increases during economic declines.

USAID Funds New Signs in the West Bank

The United Press International reports that USAID is funding the replacement of road signs in the West Bank in an effort to prepare for the establishment of a Palestinian state.  USAID is replacing Hebrew signs with Arabic and English signs in areas under full or partial control of the Palestinian Authority.