Foreign Aid

Enough is enough: British public taking a stand against foreign aid

(July 28) The British public, writes Probe International, says it’s time the government consider cutting foreign aid.

As the British government looks for ways to save money, the public has been quick with a suggestion: cut foreign aid. According to recent reports [PDF] , after George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, appealed to the public for ways to cut the country’s debt, the most popular response was to make major cuts to the government’s overseas aid budget.

The public response comes after government officials promised to make 25 percent budget cuts across the board, yet vowed to protect the Department for International Development from any such cuts.

The Department for International Development is predicted to spend as much as £7.8-billion ($12.9-billion) on aid this year—and has committed to allocate 0.7 percent of national income on development by 2013.

One commentator responded: “Simply cut all foreign aid by 50 per cent for two years. Britain is simply unable to continue shipping billions of pounds overseas every year when the Government tells us every day that the economy is fragile and we must accept austerity at home.”

The public response comes after reports last month showed that millions of pounds of aid for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan project, an education program, in India had been skimmed off by corrupt officials. According to the report, money intended for education programs had, instead, been used on luxuries such as new cars, beds and other items—with some funds earmarked for schools that don’t exist.

Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development responded to scandal, saying: “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.”

The negative response from the British public regarding the country’s foreign aid programs and recent aid scandals is part of a much larger criticism of foreign aid.

A number of prominent economists, such as Dambisa Moyo in her book “Dead Aid”, have called on governments in the developing world, most notably Africa, to use private markets [PDF] , rather than aid handouts, to achieve economic growth. She calls for a mixture of trade, foreign direct investment, capital markets, international bond markets, remittances and microfinance to help Africa achieve economic growth.

“The good news is that the bond markets offer a real opportunity for Africa’s governments to be serious about financial discipline and transparency—and to escape from the yoke of aid,” she recently wrote in an article for the Economist.

Brady Yauch, Probe International

Further Reading:

From the BBC: ” ‘The Mumbai government does not require British taxpayers’ money,’ says Mr Shetty. ‘It has money. The government institutions are loaded with money.’ ” Read the full story… [PDF]

From Livemint: “States have struggled to find resources to match their commitments in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Moreover, they have also been unable to find enough teachers to implement  as there are no permanent jobs on offer.” Read the full article…  [PDF]

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Categories: Foreign Aid

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