IFAD constitutional change plans alarm staff

FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva and IFAD's President Gilbert Houngbo (right) visiting a Coldiretti farmers direct food sale stand in Rome. © FAO

 ROME – Plans by International Fund for Agricultural Development President Gilbert Houngbo to allow the UN agency to buy and sell companies in developed countries rather than making loans to developing countries have alarmed diplomatic observers as the morale of staff in the African potentate’s Rome headquarters plummets still further, IFAD sources say.

 “This is a very big change but nobody knows about it,” said a senior source.  Details of the scheme to turn IFAD effectively into an investment bank are disclosed in a paper called "Proposed Amendments to the Basic Legal Texts of IFAD to Facilitate the Fund’s Engagement with the Private Sector," which is on the agenda of the IFAD executive board on the website.

 “Supposedly it would be limited to companies that help farmers,” the source told the Insider, “but the change in the constitution would open the door to investing in any kind of company anywhere.”

Meanwhile morale at the agency continues to tumble as many staff members are being forced to move overseas without any arrangements for their families as part of Houngbo’s unpopular decentralization policy, the sources at the agency say.

  “In some cases the offices they are being assigned to do not even exist yet.”