U.K. Should Demonstrate Leadership In Foreign Aid Spending

The Guardian: The Guardian view on the aid target: it’s the fraction that counts
Editorial Board

“…U.K. aid spending has played a significant role in halving the number of people living in extreme poverty and delivering the great improvements in global health and education that have been achieved over the past decade. … Yet … the Conservative right wants the [0.7 percent of GNI spending] target dropped. … [Britain’s] current secretary of state, Priti Patel, often appears proudly skeptical of an idea that is now routinely belittled in principle and denigrated in practice. She fails to rebut claims of waste, and success stories are scarce. … The MPs recommended that rather than spend less, DfID should simply continue to strive to spend it better. But good aid needs transparency. Ms. Patel’s enthusiasm for using public money to incentivize private investment is not necessarily wrong, but it does make it much harder to assess how well money is spent. In the same way, aid delivered through departments other than DfID is harder to track. Development is difficult; understanding the complexities of doing it well will always be a work in progress. But doing it is both a moral imperative and an exercise in the U.K.’s national interest” (4/20).

Financial Times: A British pledge on aid will send a message to the world
Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times

“Britain’s forthcoming general election is an opportunity to clarify the country’s role in the world. … One thing should not change, indeed should be reinforced: the U.K.’s relatively generous stance as a donor of development assistance. … Indeed, continuing its aid commitment is an important way to show that Brexit does not mean isolationism, a stance as disgraceful as it would be futile. Furthermore, only if the U.K. does continue to spend the money will it have the authority to persuade others, not least the U.S., that it is in its interests too, and a moral obligation, to help the world’s poorest people. Can the U.K. afford this? Of course. The aid budget is two percent of public spending: nearly all U.K. spending goes on its own citizens, with a sliver going to the world’s poorest. This aid certainly brings benefits to the recipients. It also adds to the U.K.’s moral authority. Above all, Britain should reinforce its pledge on aid, because that is the right thing for a rich country to do. The prime minister has spoken of a future in which Britain embraces the world. The U.K. should continue to demonstrate that this embrace includes the poorest” (4/20).

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