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British aid goes to funding the rich

Hundreds of millions of pounds of British foreign “aid” is used to fund online shopping, luxury malls, five star hotels, restaurant chains and gambling.

Published: December 12, 2016, 9:19 am

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    Anti-poverty campaigners in Britain have expressed their horror at the waste. Tim Jones, policy officer at Jubilee Debt Campaign, said the money only helped the wealthy: “In many cases the use of private equity funds means that the Commonwealth Development Corporation [the DifD, formerly known as the CDC] has no control over where the money ends up. Aid money should be supporting public services and infrastructure, not private profit,” he told the British daily Express.

    The bombshell, reported widely by the British media, comes just weeks after the British National Audit Office condemned the spending of international aid warning that there was “no evidence it is improving lives”.

    The shock revelation drew condemnations from senior Tory MPs and Ukip as “an absolute scandal” and has raised new questions over Britain’s commitment to provide overseas funding. The Department for International Development (DfiD) also continues to invest heavily in oil and gas, the Financial Times reported.

    British aid spending on consultants has doubled to £1 billion in just four years including massive bills to hire broadcasters from the BBC and Channel 4. The wasteful spending also included £1 million for Nigeria, which was shared with US bank JP Morgan and a law firm to advise the African nation on how to spend its vast oil wealth, the Daily Mail reported.

    In 2014 the DfiD paid £26 000 to hire Channel 4 News’ Indian presenter Krishnan Guru-Muthy to host a session at a two-day aid conference in Mexico.

    The country spends roughly 0.7 per cent of its GDP on foreign countries, according to Express. Treasury maintains that spending on international development will reach £9.3 billion [11 billion euro] in 2017/18, outstripping for the first time the entire amount councils receive to support the poor and vulnerable in British communities.

    Essentially British taxpayers money is being given to already comfortable middle class families in Africa, China and India, the investigation by The Times exposed.

    While the National Health System (NHS) in Britain is experiencing a huge cash crisis, hundreds of millions of pounds have gone to projects which include several shopping malls in Nigeria, Daraz, the Pakistani version of Amazon, a chain of stores selling iPhones in Egypt as well as various restaurant chains in Vietnam, India and Peru.

    Other “investments” include a chain of Brazilian fitness studios, a Mexican tourist resort, cable TV in Kyrgyzstan and private boarding schools for the wealthy in Kenya.

    Tory MP Philip Davies called for an investigation: “No self respecting Conservative would support this waste of money.” He added: “They are bringing international aid into disrepute.

    karin@praag.org

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