Justine Greening’s recent decision to reduce the foreign aid programme in India comes as welcome news to this website. According to the headlines, £200 million is to be reduced by 2015 to a country with its own space programme, nuclear weapons, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and *ahem* ITS OWN FOREIGN AID PROGRAMME!
Also occurring of late, in a somewhat ‘shocking’ headline, a portion of UK aid, worth approximately £11 million, has ‘somehow’ ended up going missing and has possibly ended up in the bank account of the Ugandan Prime Minister.
But wait, the saga of British foreign aid continues…
Recent articles launched in the Telegraph say that millions of pounds of British aid to Bangladesh – one of the world’s poorest countries – were spent on television programmes and a parliamentary advice line… Yep, your taxes are not actually going to the impoverished people in Bangladesh, they are instead going to political broadcasting programmes.
3/10 – See me.
When Cameron and Osborne lead their march to cuts (overall there are no cuts) and austerity, they should have first directed the party parade to witness the folly that has become our international aid programme. If British people are to suffer due to a tightening on Government’s budget in our own country, before those cuts take place, the first actual slashes should have been swiped on our international aid budget, right?
Oh don’t I sound like a Daily Express journo…
But it is true, Britain is no Nirvana state, it is not like we couldn’t use that money in other areas.
With the £7.8 billion spent on foreign aid in 2010/11, you could’ve got:
335,354 Police Officers
100,000 soldiers + 70,000 teachers + 70,000 Nurses + 66,000 Police Officers + 68,000 Firefighters
Michael St George, writing in The Backbencher says:
‘We have cuts to child benefit, defence and disability entitlements, but the foreign aid budget is ballooning, from £7.8bn in 2010 to £11.5bn by 2015.’
What might seem as a common sense agenda for swapping our aid programme (£7.8b, 2011) with trade – something this site has argued for consistently – will instead translate to a massive increase in international fiscal gifts by 2014 (£12.6b according to the Mail), a policy that was recently slammed by backbenchers due to future figures of international aid surpassing the national police force’s purse size for 2014 (£12.1b). Let me repeat that, we are set to give away more money in 2014 than what our police force receives.
Let’s break International Aid down.
If the goal is to create wealth for the sneaky few, international aid is working very well indeed, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania admitted months ago that around 30% of the government’s national budget gets ‘lost’ due to corruption and embezzlement.
And further to that, whilst reporting on Tanzania, the USA, the largest donator of foreign aid, mentions the waste that it has witnessed in its foreign aid agenda:
There was little accountability in most government entities; senior government officials estimated that 20 percent of the government’s budget in each fiscal year was lost to corruption, including theft and fraud, fake purchasing transactions, and “ghost workers,” i.e., names on government payrolls that do not correspond with any actual employee. In 2010 the Director General of the National Identification Authority (NIDA) Dickson Mwaimu told parliamentarians that the government was losing billions of shillings annually through fraudulent salary payments. According to Mwaimu the government lost 26.6 billion TZS ($16.6 million) in salaries to ghost workers in seven institutions in the previous three years.
If the goal is to create wealth for as many as possible, we need to be looking at trade instead of aid, from a free market approach. With this, we can cut out the corruption and ‘misplacement’ of British taxpayer’s money from the oh-so-savvy elite officials in foreign nations. And, with this approach, Third World countries would be in a much better position to promote jobs, independence and liberty, and better living standards for all, due to growth in Third World business sectors and therefore – inevitably – jobs.
Olly Neville summarises the pretty point well in his usual punchy-like fashion:
‘Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime, buy that man’s fish and he can build a business that employs many in his village leading to rising prosperity…(ok maybe it isn’t quite as snappy as the original).’
However, even though the ConDems are drilling deeper down into the figures of Britain’s international aid package, there is still – in my opinion – much more to be cut, and much more to be changed. Trade not aid people, trade not aid.