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German Call for Better Control on Use of Bosnian Aid

Munich, April 12 (RFE/RL) - A senior German politician says he doubts whether European Union (EU) funds for the reconstruction of Bosnia are being used properly and called for better control measures.

Detlev Samland, chairman of the budget committee of the European Parliament, told German correspondents there was no effective mechanism to determine whether funds were being used for truly urgent projects or frittered away elsewhere.

Samland's comments came as an international donors conference convened in Brussels with the goal of raising 1.200 million dollars for emergency construction projects in Bosnia, including hospitals, schools, factories and power stations.

Samland told reporters the EU was confronted with a dilemma. "The European Union has committed itself to do much for Bosnia," he said. "But an exact control of where the money goes and how it is spent is only possible afterwards."

He said that at present his committee has to make do with the long lists of purchases which are sent regularly to Brussels by the civilian administrator Carl Bildt of Sweden.

As an example of his frustrations, he said these lists show that 20 small tractors and 50 diesel motors were bought partly with EU funds. However there was no way of knowing whether and where they had been put to work or whether they were just rusting in a storeroom.

A German newspaper, the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" of Munich, today carries an article by its Brussels correspondent that says there are ample examples of misuse of funds. The newspaper says Bildt's own office had to pay the Bosnian authorities 45,000 German marks (about 30,000 dollars) for five telephone connections.

The article says that "unfortunately" the EU has not yet been able to determine how much money disappears between western Europe and Bosnia and how much aid material disappears into "dark channels" in Bosnia.

The correspondent says there is no doubt that Bosnia needs assistance but the conference in Brussels today and tomorrow should not content itself with handing-out international aid packets. It should also establish conditions for the reconstruction of Bosnia's own economy.

The correspondent says the strengthening of the private sector and measures to encourage small and middle enterprises should be at the forefront.