LAHORE - A USAID delegation headed by Administrator Dr Rajiv Shah and Chief of Staff USAID Islamabad Sean C Carroll met with the Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer at the Governor House on Tuesday afternoon for his advice on maximising US funding within Pakistan. The meeting began with the Governor commenting that a large proportion of the funding to Pakistan ended up in the pockets of consultants and contractors in the US. Dr Shah agreed, saying it was a valid criticism and estimated that around 50 per cent of total funds found their way back to the US. Only around 20 per cent of resources are directly given to Pakistan, as specific steps are required for a visible procurement and accountability mechanisms to report back to the US Senate. The Administrator added that it often took six months in a year to effectively use US funds allocated to Pakistan and that taking risks was getting harder. Governor Salmaan Taseer suggested that the US should invest in universities, as many of the students, especially female ones, who hail from outside of the Punjab and do not have a place to stay. In addition, the positive message the US wishes to send across to Pakistan could be fostered in the future leaders of the country. The Governor was also of the opinion that the US should not restrict funding to the public sector but also invest in the large number of high quality private universities, from which they would get a dynamic response. Investment in the agricultural sector was also discussed. US funding in the form of seed technology has shown success in countries like India where saline soils have allowed for a revolution of the domestic situation. The Governor was of the opinion that this was particularly relevant to the Pakistani situation as our farmers are smart and learn really fast- even though they dont go to universities. Furthermore, there are well-established agriculture universities at which this know-how can be propagated. The USAID delegation particularly mentioned they care about a broad partnership with Pakistan and that they need to make the dialogue between the countries about more than just security issues. The Governor responded by saying, for the first time I see a real change (in US attitude towards Pakistan) and thats where it starts. Furthermore, the Kerry-Lugar (Berman) Bill will allow a significant increase in funding to Pakistan and will allow the US to really use those resources to change the long-term narrative. While the Governor acknowledged renewed US efforts for deepening engagement between the two nations through strategic dialogue he said, It frustrates us when our people are subjected to specific security checks and create a very bad impression. The delegation agreed and responded by saying, We all feel a sense of urgency. We are committed to change. The Governor laughed and said, Whatever you do, do it fast Greater market access for Pakistani goods in the US was also discussed, with the Governor saying, it would change our whole economic outlook. The US said it was looking into trade-investment policies and wanted to work more closely with Pakistan in this sphere. The USAID delegation was appreciative of the time the Governor took out to share his thoughts and expressed that it was very consistent with Obamas global incentive policy.