Government borrows billions each year only to waste them

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Foreign aid is a waste of money. I should know, I’ve advised Britain how to spend it, writes GORDON BRIDGER


15 October 2014

Our politicians like to present the gargantuan international aid budget as a badge of compassion. In reality, it is a monument to their vanity and extravagance with other people’s money.

Rather than helping the poor of the developing world, the colossal funds spent by the British government on overseas assistance sustain a vast, bureaucratic aid industry which actually fuels corruption and hinders economic progress.

The ludicrousness of the system was highlighted this week with the release of a TaxPayers’ Alliance report, which found that British aid ‘does not have any discernible impact on freedom in developing countries’.

The report examined the progress of 28 countries that have received British taxpayers’ money, measuring the impact of aid spending against benchmarks laid down by international organisations.

Of the countries that were sent aid, 12 showed no changes in their measured levels of economic and political freedoms over a decade.

Six had a falling score, indicating increased tyranny, while four others — Ghana, Paraguay, Peru and Zambia — had improved freedom scores, even though the amount of aid they received from Britain went down.

Only three had freedom levels that improved with increasing aid.

Yet Britain’s aid budget is spiralling out of control: last year, it rose by a whopping 28 per cent, a far bigger increase than in any other European country.

In 2013, the Government spent £10.6 billion on international development, up from £8.3 billion the year before.

This vast sum means that the Coalition reached its cherished target of spending 0.7 per cent of our entire gross domestic product on overseas aid.

The Lib Dems have been fighting to force this target, about £11 billion of public money a year, onto the statute book, so it is legally binding.

Last month, MPs voted in favour of enshrining this spending level in law, after Michael Moore, a former Lib Dem Cabinet minister, won a ballot giving him a chance to introduce the legislation.

I’ve worked in foreign aid as an adviser for the past 40 years, and this is the craziest idea I’ve come across – it’s Alice in Wonderland economics.

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