Monday, July 19, 2010

Where Will Extra Afghan Aid Money End Up?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece explaining why I thought the Dfid budget should not be ringfenced. What provoked my ire had been the revelation that we are giving £800 million in aid to India, a country which spends almost as much every year on its space programme.

I was therefore delighted to read this weekend that all aid to Russia and China was being cancelled. Quite why we were giving any aid at all to countries in the G20 is anyone's guess. It's a sure sign of the profligate approach of the previous government. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell is also reviewing aid to other countries, and about time too. He might start with India. India and China are the two main powerhouses of the East. Of course both countries have huge problems with poverty, but if they don't address that, is it really the place of the British taxpayer to ride to the rescue?

The ringfencing of the Dfid budget means that the savings made on cutting aid to China and Russia are not being handed back to the Treasury, as you might have thought ought to be the case. Instead, all these funds are being directed to Afghanistan. This means that our aid budget to Afghanistan is increasing by 40%. The challenge for Andrew Mitchell will be to make sure that this money is not pissed down the drain. If it ends up in the pockets of Afghan warlords it would be an absolute scandal.

I look forward to hearing what plans are in place to ensure that does not happen.


Thomas Paine said...

If it ends up in the pockets of the warlords and they adopt a strategy of allowing a break in warfare until we can get out, it would be money well spent. Bribe them for a bit of peace, save lives and then get out as soon as we can. Has more cohesion than our current strategy of trying to bribe (pay) ordinary Afghan soldiers to defend our puppet regime. They don't seem keen!

Anonymous said...

According to Spiegel online, the US has suspended aid to Afghanistan as most of it ended up in suitcases on the way to Dubai.

No doubt our extra 40% will go the same way.

Dr Evil said...

Well, if the new Gov decided to stop taxpayer funded support for all those fake charities out there, such as Alcohol Concern and ASH for example they would have hundreds of millions to squander on the second most corrupt country in the world.

Cynic said...

It is estimated that organised crime in Afghanistan is 50% of GDP.

Now that we and the US have confirmed our withdrawals we can expect that the ruling class will skelter for the door too...taking as much of our money with them as they can lay hands on.

Anonymous said...

I agree it should not end up in warlord or other corrupt pockets.

This is the perennial problem of aid though.

Aid should be spent to the mutual benefit of giver and receiver; the argument against aid to India or China should be made within this context.
If we get no benefit either politically or economically from aid it should be withheld until the right circumstances appear.

Having seen the Newnight story about the young Afghan soldier blown up and left limbless I think it unfair to say they do 'don't seem keen' to defend their country.
Afghan soldiers need a lot of training (which will take time) and I can only hope our aid helps give them something they consider worth defending.

Matelot said...

Don't get carried away thinking that the DfID budget is purely for charitable purposes. It's a very useful tool for buying political goodwill abroad and, applied properly, should be worth its weight in gold. Cutting aid to friendly nations could be extremely expensive in political and trade circles.

Anonymous said...

This piece in the FT this morning will be of interest:

Patrick Casey said...

While steps were taken by the last Goverment to boost transparency of aid to Afghanistan, Iain is right to raise concerns about where the cash is going.

This piece on Full looks at where the money goes