Another round of chest beating by David Cameron is reported in the mainstream press today as he states that the UK will ‘fulfil its promise to the poorest people in the world’ – apparently.
Foreign aid spend hit its highest ever figure of over £11 BILLION in 2013, a massive increase of 30.2% on the previous year. This makes the UK the 2nd biggest donor after the USA.
The coalition government target spend on foreign aid is 0.7% of gross national income.
The controversial figure has attracted much criticism at a time when the people of the UK are being subjected to incredibly harsh cuts across public services and welfare.
Usually the government are very vocal about their achievements, but there was no announcement of the 0.7% target being reached. Trying to keep their waste of taxpayer’s money secret, the only clue was in a tweet in April by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. A small caption read ‘On the day we confirm UK has met 0.7% GNI/ODA, @BillGates and I discussed working together to bust common aid myths.’
According to statistics published by the Department for International Development (DofID) the top five recipients of UK aid were Pakistan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, India, and Nigeria.
The DofID has been criticised for mismanaging aid money, most notably channelling funds to corrupt regimes through charities and other NGOs.
We have covered the waste of the UK foreign aid budget on several occasions, including in the region of £1.14 BILLION given to Nigeria being spent on the country’s space mission, and the few British companies which seem to get the lion’s share of foreign aid money for dubious projects of little or no benefit to the local population.
Although we think that the UK should contribute financially to help other countries, we do not agree with the current system which wastes billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money. A significant portion of the foreign aid budget does not directly benefit those who genuinely need it.
A worrying aspect of the government’s foreign aid agenda is that they want to enshrine the UK’s commitment of 0.7% of gross national income in law. This will mean that the UK taxpayer will have to contribute the (mismanaged) cash whatever the economic situation.
The International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill is due to be debated today (Friday 5th December).
Critics of the Bill, led by Conservative MPs Philip Davies and Jacob Rees-Mogg, have tabled a long list of amendments which may mean that the Commons will run out of time to debate and vote on the bill.
Phillip Davies told the Financial Times “It is completely ludicrous, at a time when we are borrowing so much money, that we are committing ourselves to an arbitrary figure that is increasingly unaffordable, on the basis of a recalculation.”
With the UK facing another round of unprecedented cuts in public spending according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, increased spending on foreign aid should be a low priority. If anything, the government should be concentrating on reducing the billions of taxpayer’s money wasted through the DofID and ensuring the money is used efficiently to provide real help to those who need it, and not line the pockets of dictators and British ‘consultants’ who provide no value.
The purpose of budgeting at its most fundamental level is to ensure projected spend is viable and sustainable.
If we, as individuals, are struggling to service our basic costs it would be financial suicide to spend or take out credit on non-essential items – something Osborne and the rest of the government seem to either have little grasp of or ignore completely.
It seems the current government are ready to allocate billions of pounds in taxpayer’s money to projects which are non-essential and non-critical, while at the same time taking money away from fundamental services which form part of a modern and progressive society.
Welfare, health, and all other public services are not ‘gifts’ or ‘luxuries’ – they are essential to maintaining a strong platform from which we can help the rest of the world.
We need to ensure that those who have served our society and have hit hard times through no fault of their own are cared for and properly supported through a system of support and enablement within the context of our society.
Something the government seems conveniently to forget is that if it were not for the less well off in our society the government and their cronies would not be enjoying the privileged lifestyles they do.
There needs to be a significant readjustment in the attitudes of those who are permitted to be in government (and other positions of perceived power).
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