Concerns are growing among insiders that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a government organization that implements official development assistance (ODA), may have run out of funds.
JICA, since this summer, has reportedly been increasingly asking consulting firms which, commissioned by JICA, carry out ODA projects in developing countries to delay or review project plans or reduce the number of projects it orders to the firms.
An industry group consisting of ODA contractors conducted a fact-finding survey of its member companies and found out that the review and reduction of projects could result in a decrease of approximately six billion yen in the combined value of orders from JICA over the initial estimate this fiscal year.
According to an informed source, JICA is reviewing projects and reducing their numbers primarily in the area called “technical cooperation” of the ODA operations. The cooperation is aimed at passing on Japan’s advanced technologies and know-hows and helping developing nations enhance their productivity and technologies by sending agricultural and medical experts there.
JICA is busy explaining the circumstances. Insiders say that JICA held at least two briefing sessions for the industry group in November. A representative of JICA’s public affairs section told Sande Mainichi, “It’s true that we are asking (consulting firms) to review projects. Some divisions are on a tight budget for fiscal 2017 because the rate of budget execution for projects in fiscal 2016 was higher than usual. But it means neither we are underfunded nor we’re asking firms to delay our payments.”
JICA says if it runs over the budget, it will manage on its budget somehow, such as by reworking budget slots for some divisions.
The aforementioned insider says that these situations are “unprecedented”. The situations could damage the trust of developing countries expecting a lot from Japan’s cooperation and deal a blow to the Japanese government, which considers “ODA as an important diplomatic tool.” (Slightly abridged)