Why do our leaders continue to squander money on overseas aid?
45 commentsJonathan Foreman 17 April 2015 10:27
One of the more bizarre mysteries of contemporary British politics is the ironclad, almost fanatical intensity of the government’s commitment to foreign aid spending and the activities of DFID, the Department for International Development. The Times reveals today that Britain is paying professional aid staff up to £1,000 a day to work in Africa and Asia as part of a spending ‘frenzy’ to meet a government target.
It is bizarre because the Prime Minister talks about foreign aid as if it’s all about famine relief and saving children’s lives. But he and his Cabinet are intelligent, worldly people and they know that the real world of aid rarely resembles the one celebrated in DFID pamphlets and Oxfam ads. They know that most aid is ‘development aid’ intended not to help in emergencies, but to foster prosperity.
They also know that this development aid is at best useless and at worst counterproductive. A quarter of Britain’s foreign aid goes as ‘budget support’ into the treasuries of some of the world’s least competent, honest or responsible governments. Even more goes to multilateral institutions, like the World Bank or the EU aid body that Clare Short described as ‘an outrage’, ‘a disgrace’ and ‘the worst development agency in the world’.