June 14, 2010
Britain has launched an inquiry into reports that millions of pounds of aid for education and the ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’, has disappeared into the depths of corruption without any benefit to the poor children the aid was intended for.
Shocked by reports based on findings by the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, said: “These are shocking allegations.
“I have launched an immediate inquiry to ensure British aid money has not been misused. The new British Government will have a zero tolerance policy to corruption”.
Reports in the British media about the corruption mentioned a figure of 340 million pounds in aid to a schools project for children under the age of 14.
One audit of money earmarked for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan project found that 70 million pounds had reportedly vanished.
Mitchell said: “When I took up this job a month ago I made a pledge to taxpayers that they must know that for every pound of their money, we will get 100 pence of value”.
“Now I’m reviewing every single one of the Department for International Development’s country programmes to ensure we are giving aid to where it’s most needed – to help the world’s poorest people”.
‘The News of the World’ quoted a report by India’s Auditor General that almost 14 million pounds had been spent on items and luxuries that had nothing to do with schools.
The newspaper’s investigation said: “Cash meant for kids’ education has been blown on luxuries.
“We discovered that officials throughout the country had used it to buy new cars and in one instance aid cash was spent on four luxury beds costing a total of 17,754 pounds as well as a 3,803 pounds computer”.
Large amounts of money were shown to have been spent on schools that reportedly did not exist, while in some cases air conditioners, faxes, photocopiers and 7,531 colour television sets were reportedly bought despite there being no electricity supplies.
The report said that 150,000 pounds was paid into a mystery bank account with no reason given.
It quoted a report by the Institute of Public Auditors of India that in Bihar children were reportedly being taught in open fields, because money had not been passed on for classroom repairs.
“In Muzzaffarpur they found that only 400,000 pounds out of an allocated 1.1 million had gone to schools,” it said.
India is one of the largest recipients of British foreign aid. One woman involved in the widespread fraud has been accused of siphoning off up to 6 million pounds from the funds, even using 44,000 pounds of it to make a movie directed by her son.
“Auditors checking individual state accounts found sums up to 4.8 million pounds missing from the books,” the report said.
Categories: Foreign Aid