More than a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money has been handed out to foreign aid recipients in cash by British aid officials program, according to a new report.
UK aid officials have reportedly given huge amounts of funding directly to citizens of other countries in the form of bank notes in envelopes or pre-loaded debit cards.
The Daily Mail reported Tuesday that a chunk of the nation’s controversial aid budget is being earmarked for “cash transfers” to countries including Burma, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 2, 2017
The British government has fixed the nation’s aid budget at 0.7% of GDP – by far the most generous of the major G7 economies – at the same time as many domestic public services are coming under significant strain.
The direct funding is in contrast to other aid programs which fund particular projects – like digging wells, funding vaccinations or providing disaster relief – over open-ended financial contributions.
The Mail calculated that around £217million a year has been handed out this way for five years – resulting in a total of more than £1billion since 2010.
In most cases the funding appears to be underwriting domestic social security systems.
In a front-page article, the newspaper published photographs of people in Pakistan lining up in front of a cash machine to receive payment cards funded by British aid.
It reported that 10% of beneficiaries of the Benazir Income Support Program are given money in envelopes at local post offices.
Pakistan was highlighted for particular criticism given its status as a nuclear power with its own space program, which receives Government attention while large proportions of the 182million-strong population remain in poverty.
As well as its on-the-ground report from Pakistan – where correspondents found many tales of corruption, coercion and kickbacks linked to the money – the Mail listed further examples of cash funds to benefit from British largesse:
- Rwanda’s Social Protection Support to the Poorest
- Uganda’s Expanding Social Protection
- Zimbabwe’s Child Protection Fund
The 0.7% target was agreed upon by a group of the world’s richest countries at the UN General Assembly in 1970. However, hardly any members have ever actually achieved the target.
The UK is by far the largest economy to hit 0.7%, alongside the much smaller nations of Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands.
In 2015 the US contributed around 0.17% of its GDP. The combined contributions of all enrolled nations has never exceeded 0.4%.