Foreign Aid

African leaders tell Britain to end aid game

(September 3,  2010) A group of scholars and other leaders from across Africa call on the British public to end foreign aid handouts to the continent, writes Brady Yauch.

In the wake of Dambisa Moyo’s blockbuster book, “Dead Aid”, which details the devastating impact foreign aid handouts have had on the African continent, other aid critics are speaking up too and criticizing the billions of dollars poured into the developing world. Now, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph [PDF] , a group of scholars and other leaders from across the continent, are asking the British public and politicians to put an end to the billions of dollars of foreign aid they dump on the African continent year after year.

The authors point to the turmoil in the British economy as the perfect time to cut foreign aid which, they say, “has, since its inception, stunted growth and subsidised bad governance in Africa.”

Where foreign aid has done Africa harm, they say, free trade would help. The authors of the letter urge Britons to abolish the Common Agricultural Policy, a system of European Union agricultural subsidies and programmes,“which keeps African agricultural exports out of the European marketplace.” Their sentiment echoes the “Trade Not Aid” argument often articulated by critics of foreign aid programs.

The authors believe that the Common Agricultural Policy, “combined with the weight of regulations, bad laws and stifling bureaucracy, subsidised by five decades of development aid, which prevents Africans from lifting themselves out of poverty.”

Their comments come after the British public recently appealed to George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to make major cuts to the government’s overseas aid budgets as a way to trim the country’s debt.

Their letter also reinforces the views of a number of African leaders who say the time has come for the continent to finance its own programmes and development initiatives through taxation and “end their half-century-long experiment with ‘development aid.’” At a meeting of African leaders earlier this year, a number of officials said it’s time to raise the continent’s tax-to-GDP ratio and begin to take care of itself, rather than having to rely on foreign aid handouts.

The former Rwandan Finance Minister and now African Development Bank President Kaberuka highlighted the continent’s shortcomings regarding taxation, saying, “tax to GDP percentage in Africa is still the lowest at only 7 per cent.”

Criticism of foreign aid programs in the donating countries are also on the rise.

Australia’s national aid agency, AusAID, for example, recently suffered intense criticism after an audit revealed the high salaries being offered to contractors working with the agency. That came after another audit showed that a number of aid workers were earning more money than the country’s Prime Minister—and doing so tax-free.

Australia is not alone, as Canada’s national aid agency, CIDA was criticized by the auditor general, who openly questioned the agency’s ability to effectively and strategically deliver its $3-billion foreign aid budget.

Brady Yauch, Probe International, September 3, 2010

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Categories: Foreign Aid, Off Aid

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