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Aiding and Abetting

Nigel Williams, 2 January 2013

A new book by foreign correspondent , Jonathan Foreman, urges the Government to revolutionise its approach to overseas aid.

Aiding and Abetting is available from here.

At a time of cuts in public expenditure, the Coalition government is committed not only to maintaining the foreign aid budget but increasing it, in order to meet the target of 0.7 per cent of GDP,  even though opinion polls show it to be unpopular with the electorate. Jonathan Foreman argues that the public scepticism is justified. After six decades and more than three trillion dollars of official development aid, there is scant evidence for its effectiveness. Instead of promoting economic growth, aid seems more likely to subvert good government, enrich corrupt tyrants and subsidise warlords. Aiding and Abetting also examines the complicated and often troubling realities that underlie emergency or humanitarian aid.

Foreman does not argue for an end to aid, but rather that it should be reality-based rather than faith-based, i.e. it should rest on realistic assumptions about the likely fate of donations to poor country governments, UN agencies, international bureaucracies and large charities. He recommends an abandonment of the 0.7 per cent target; a Royal Commission to investigate the purpose of foreign aid; the transfer of one-third of the aid budget to the armed forces; and the funding of the BBC World Service from the aid budget.

‘Those who support the increase of taxpayer-supported UK aid need to ask themselves how much of the wellbeing of the weakest and most vulnerable people in the UK they are willing to sacrifice for that end. To ‘rebrand’ or ‘detoxify’ his party, David Cameron is apparently willing to take advantage of the real generosity of British people to send money abroad while simultaneously making life more miserable for the handicapped, the elderly and the otherwise vulnerable at home.’

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