The UK government today warned that it is ready to cut aid to developing countries that fail to invest in their own people.
Penny Mordaunt, who took charge as international development minister after Indian-origin MP Priti Patel was forced to step down last year amid controversy over an undeclared Israel visit, has said that she wants governments of developing countries to “step up and take responsibility”.
“I will not invest when others should be putting their hands in their pockets... I want the governments of developing countries to take responsibility for investing in healthcare or education. If it chooses not to, that will inform our decisions,” Mordaunt wrote in an article for “The Daily Telegraph”.
“I will cut funding to organisations that do not deliver on targets we set... But some others do not and they are on notice,” she said.
The UK had concluded its conventional aid programme for India at the end of 2015, instead focusing on a project-led approach aimed at strengthening India-UK ties.
It gave nearly 100-million-pounds to India in 2016, significantly lower than the traditional financial aid relationship in the past.
Pakistan, Nigeria and Jordan are among the biggest beneficiaries of aid from the British government, which has a 0.7 per cent of national income target on aid spending.
The new minister believes this money can be more effectively spent and that Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) and foreign policy concerns must define its wider approach to overseas aid.
“I will develop alongside the Department for International Trade a bold new Brexit-ready proposition to boost trade and investment with developing countries and promote sustainable economic development and job creation,” Mordaunt said.
“Development policy will not exist in a vacuum. It will be part of a joined-up response to the challenges and opportunities we face as a country. This new offer will provide a clear ‘win-win’ for Britain and the world’s poorest,” she said.
The minister believes that while the British public is not “ungenerous or uncaring”, they have some “legitimate” concerns about the aid spend which must be addressed.
“The bar we need to set on aid spending is not just ‘are we spending this money well’ but could we spend it better in the national interest,” she said.