Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Foreign Aid

Foreign aid continues to be a very controversial issue especially as aid seems to be given to many of the most corrupt countries in the world and to many who don't need it. Why should we give money to, say, India which is rich enough to have its own space programme?

I would argue that whilst there are good reasons for helping poorer countries, there are equally good reasons for restricting it to emergency aid following some natural disaster or similar unforeseen events. It should not be give so that, at the best, it simply becomes part of the national budget of the country concerned causing them to rely on this payment to run the country. At the worst, and not infrequently, it does not even end up being spent on the country, but ends up in the bank accounts of corrupt dictators and their cronies.

When it comes to the actual aid, there are therefore very good reasons why it should not be given in cash, but in goods and services. Wherever possible, any goods should be made in Britain, which in itself would provide a boost to our economy and industry. There should be limits on the type of goods being supplied; certainly no armaments or luxury goods. In addition, they should not be goods which are easily "sold on", which again would allow corrupt officials to pocket money. If the country wants any services, such as the construction of infrastructure in the form of roads, bridges, etc., these should be carried out by British Contractors under contract to the British Government. They would recruit and directly employ local labour, where appropriate, to carry out the work. They would bill the British Government in a similar manner to that which they would when employed on a UK project.

Finally, I would not allocate aid money to be administered by any of our major charities operating abroad; they seem to spend a far to large a proportion of their money on running the charity rather than on the causes that they are supporting. Reports of their staff flying to these countries and swanning around in Land Cruisers whilst staying in the best available hotels does little to increase one's faith that their funds are being well spent.

If the countries concerned don't like this approach, they should be simply told that we are offering these goods/services as a gift, if they don't want what we are offering, there are others that might.

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