The sour news surrounding British Foreign Aid is continuing to make the government look incredibly silly, wasteful, and unconcerned with its finances. Recent articles launched by the British media have ripped down the roofing and shed light – again – on the absolute shambles that is our Foreign Aid programme, because Britain, the ‘bastion’ of Western Democracy, is funding executions in Iran via foreign aid – according to human rights campaigners, Reprieve.
Reprieve investigator and campaigner Maya Foa said: ‘It’s outrageous that Britain, which is supposed to be committed to the abolition of capital punishment, should in fact be funding executions for drug offences in Iran.’
Am I surprised? No. And there is an annoyingly good reason for that too, because Foreign Aid – in contrast to popular belief – is the most mismanaged financial area of government, and no, I am not joking, and it is for that mismanagement that headlines such as these come about.
Let me be clear, foreign aid is only used as a means of political leverage. If it was actually used to improve the lives of ordinary people abroad – which is what we are told it is there to do – then the system would have been under much closer scrutiny. To quote the late Christopher Hitchens on BBCQT: ‘stop that right now (Pakistan), or do without all the aid money we give you.’
Here are some recent stats on the matter:
- India: In 2011, £70 million of Department for International Development’s £388 million had been stolen or lost.
- Uganda: £11 million ‘missing’.
- Bangladesh: Aid money is spent on political broadcasts, not on addressing the poverty is was first given to do.
- And EU aid, to which Britain donates a third of its budget, reinforces the bureaucratic mismanagement by funding tourism in Iceland, financing a French tourist resort in Morocco, supporting a ‘hospitality management school’ in Barbados and subsidising a Turkish TV station.
- Iran: Aid money being spent on executions.
Can you honestly say that this is a good way of spending British tax payer’s money? Is Foreign Aid actually doing what it was created to do?
Civitas don’t think so. They say that ‘David Cameron’s controversial foreign aid target is a costly “con job” designed to make the Conservative Party seem more caring.’ And they are right, simply because the government is now throwing money at the problem as a means of dealing with it, and this of course means that your taxes are being utterly wasted on a system that is not fit for purpose.
But none of that matters, because for David Cameron, Foreign Aid is a ‘moral obligation’, in the sense that it assists the poorest parts of the world, even though there is plenty of mess on our own doorstep, and plenty of evidence to suggest that the aid money is not being spent in the correct areas – should it not end up immediately in the pockets of the wealthy elite in the first place. However, DC has pledged to increase the foreign aid budget from £8 billion to £12.6 billion by 2015, which according to the Mail is around £500-a-year contribution from every household.
This is something which needs to be addressed urgently! It is such a waste of money, and needs reform immediately. We need to swap this backwards ‘chuck some money to shut them up’ style of politics and open up some free trade agreements with these countries if the alleviation of poverty is the actual goal. Britain would also benefit from this, as it would have more suppliers of different products which would push down prices, and would benefit consumers.
But until our politicians actually address this, money will continue to be poorly spent, stolen, and poverty will continue to exist in much higher amounts than it would under free trade.