Tricks of the trade

One day after the job position was announced, I was told ‘We can’t find any good person. But I have a cousin in Pakistan who can come.’ Ah, yes, well we might have to think about that…

Many managers are accused of recruiting only people from their tribe or ethnic group. Luckily we have a fairly broad mix, so no one group dominates, but that doesn’t stop the accusations. I know of some international NGOs where all the senior Afghan managers come from the same village, and all the drivers are related.

We of course have policies to try and prevent nepotism. To get round such problems, person X from NGOX may make a deal with person Y from UN agency Y: neither can employ their own relative, but they can ‘swap’ relatives without anyone knowing, both agreeing to employ the others’.

There are similar tricks when it comes to purchasing. There is a constant horde of people wandering the shops of Kabul getting the requisite three or more quotations for international organisations, buying everything from printer cartridges to cars.

To make everyone’s life easier, many shops will write out three different quotations on different bits of stationery, with three different signatures, and one quotation just a little bit less than the others. They make sure they get the sale, and the purchasing officer gets an easier ride or a little kick-back.

These examples pale into insignificance compared to much of the corruption that goes on. But they are perhaps interesting in the simplicity with which rules can be circumnavigated.

[Coincidently, this arrived in my inbox just after writing here: Assessment of Corruption in Afghanistan (pdf), from USAID.]

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One Response to “Tricks of the trade”

  1. Peter Says:

    God, how I miss those days in Pakistan and Afghanistan where we were tracing these fake quotes, and fake relatives….
    And the dilemmas to make a judgement whether these should be treated as fraude, or if it really did not matter…. that much…

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