A shakeup of Britain's £9.1bn overseas aid budget would be launched by a Conservative government to cut funding to more prosperous developing nations, notably China, and boost it to the poorest, especially those in the Commonwealth.He pledged to:
• Review spending in all 102 developing countries funded by Britain with a view to cutting the overall numbers. Mitchell, who pledges to publish details of all DfID funding on its website, said: "I suspect that we will reduce the number ... We would narrow the focus as part of making it sharper and less scattergun."
• Give outsiders a key role in conducting a "proper independent evaluation" of DfID spending and its outputs – for instance, how many schools are built. Mitchell cited the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex as the sort of body that could conduct this work.
• Focus more aid on the 53-strong Commonwealth, which had been "under-valued" by Labour. Aid to India would be preserved because of its "deep historical and cultural relationship" with Britain even though its economy is developing rapidly.
• Transform the work of the DfID. Amid concerns among senior Tories that the department has become too detached from foreign policy, he added: "One of the things we will do with DfID ... is to inject a little bit more business DNA, and indeed a little bit more classic civil service DNA and perhaps a little less NGO DNA."
It would help formulate overall foreign policy on a national security council alongside the foreign and defence secretaries. "We would build on what DfID is today and make it even more successful and perhaps wire it in a little bit better into the Whitehall constellation," Mitchell said.
• Curtail funding to UN agencies if they failed to deliver under a performance-related approach being championed by the Swedish development minister, Gunilla Carlsson. Sweden has reduced its contribution to the United Nations Development Programme.
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