How much longer do British taxpayers have to suffer cuts whilst their hard earned cash continues to flow into countries that are more than able to pay to look after their own citizens, but just don’t want to? They must be laughing their heads off every time they cash our cheque.
And the sternest statement our MPs can make on this scandal? ‘Tory MPs want Britain to use the meeting to call for bigger contributions from other countries’. WRONG! The British people want the British Government to stop lording it around on the world stage and cut these contributions without further delay.
British aid supports schemes in Iran and China
By Colin Freeman Sunday Telegraph 7 Oct 2012
FRESH concerns over Britain’s spending on foreign aid were raised last night as it was disclosed that the country is helping support projects in Iran and China. The Department for International Development (DfID) is a key supporter of the World Bank, set up to help develop poorer countries.
The bank, established after the Second World War, is funded by developed countries to provide capital to lend on interest-free or easy terms to poorer countries, and to use as collateral to raise further funds on the international money markets.
It also provides grants from cash given by donor countries, of which Britain is fifth largest, behind America, Japan, Germany and France. However, the level of aid given to the World Bank raised new worries last night over how aid funds are spent, and there is also concern over some of the bank’s loan schemes.
Inquiries by The Telegraph found a number of projects that bore only limited relevance to Britain’s development goals. They include:
• £50 million in loans for a road safety campaign to improve Iran’s appalling road accident rate. The country’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, holds a PhD in traffic management.
• A £30 million loan towards the cost of a Confucius “cultural heritage protection” project in China.
• £122,000 for a “radio reality format” project to encourage women in central India to use water more efficiently.
Last year DfID contributed £953.4 million to the bank. In stark contrast, China gave only £98 million in 2010, while Russia gave just £70 million. Additionally, Britain is still giving aid to “middle income” countries through its contributions, despite the Government’s recent pledge to restrict handouts to only the neediest nations.
In a major review of aid 18 months ago, ministers promised a “tighter focus” on 27 of the poorest nations. However, among those in receipt of World Bank grants are Moldova, Cambodia and Kosovo, which were on a list of 16 countries for which DfID stopped direct funding.
The three receive grants totalling £56 million from the World Bank’s International Development Association, a fund to which Britain paid £2.64 billion – 12 per cent of the total – in the last round of contributions in 2010. On that basis, roughly £7.6 million of the grants to Moldova, Cambodia and Kosovo came from the British taxpayer.
The money is part of the 0.7 per cent of national income that Britain spends on overseas aid, which critics say must either be reduced or more carefully monitored. The lack of control that Britain has over how its foreign aid budget is spent by international bodies was highlighted by The Telegraph last week, when it was revealed that British aid cash channelled through the European Union is being spent on projects such as tourism parks in Iceland and energy-efficient holiday complexes in Morocco.
This week, the World Bank will hold its annual meeting in Tokyo, when talks will start on the next round of handouts, due to be finalised next year. Tory MPs want Britain to use the meeting to call for bigger contributions from emerging economies, especially if they want a greater say in the bank’s affairs.
“As a layman, I would have imagined that the voting rights should follow the money,” said Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley. “By anybody’s standards, we appear to be overpaying relative to other countries, and it is more than we can afford in this time of austerity.”
A DfID spokesman said the Government had not made any decisions about its future contribution to the World Bank’s aid programmes. But he added: “We are committed to a faster programme towards poverty reduction worldwide – this includes pushing other countries to increase their contributions.”