Friday 20 March 2015

Foreign Aid

Foreign aid

  1.  United States – $31.55 billion
  2.  United Kingdom – $17.88 billion
  3.  Germany – $14.06 billion
  4.  Japan – $11.79 billion
  5.  France – $11.38 billion
  6.  Sweden – $5.83 billion
  7.  Norway – $5.58 billion
  8.  Netherlands – $5.44 billion
  9.  Canada – $4.91 billion
  10.  Australia – $4.85 billion
Foreign aid seems to be a topic of some debate on here. We have mentioned it a few times. I agree that the amount spent isn't that big in budgetary terms. That its probably better spent there than on an IT system that won't work.  That its really a cover for some of our business and military spending. 

I also agree with CU that its been very badly spent for years. A sum of cash that is just dished out like a Parish council with a surplus suddenly commissioning bronze statues and welcome centers.
Why half the money wasn't just given to the charities to do their thing .. and half to the arms-oil industry to do their thing.. well, couldn't do a worse job.

The problem with this foreign aid ring fencing is that it's a bad political decision. Dave's advisers will have been telling him that people see the number and react to that. $17 billion.
And they think of  any "Cut" in those terms. So the library budget of £300 million could easily be paid from foreign aid. Or a hospital. Or a school. They don't think 'we have already spent $xxx billion dollars on those very things." 

People ask why do we borrow money to give it away? Are we mad? 
They see the unringfenced budget for defence going to under 2% and say "Why not  give the foreign aid to our brave boys.?"
They don't remember the unbelievable waste in the defence budget. Or that we aren't going to commit to an Iraq sized ground war unless we can get someone else to pay our bills for us. or that we have millions of pounds of kit that we aren't going to need again and will serve on the books for years. So allowing these cuts. And that the foreign aid is helping to keep stable government in some of these countries..So hopefully preventing revolution and a war we may be dragged into.

People say "why have a % figure of GDP at all? Why not just dish out money for projects that we can gain from. Dams and wells and roads and mines and stuff ?"

The public sees the African dictators and even elected commonwealth government officials become amazingly wealthy from siphoned off foreign aid. They ask why the UK gives the largest amount of aid , after the USA. China and Russia aren't even in that top ten list. {though they do their foreign aid by other means}

All very hard to answer. 

I have always said it's a mistake to ringfence foreign aid to a % of GDP. The voters don't like it. So don't do it. Its a wagon train of ammunition for UKIP to use and the real reasons for doing it can't be admitted to. And there are better, more PR friendly ways, of  achieving what the government wants to achieve with Foreign aid anyway.


Budgie said...

The government (well, each legacy party) appears to think that:
1. DfID's spending increases the UK's influence/prestige
2. We, as a "wealthy" nation have a moral duty to fund DfID's aid.

The first, if true at all, is merely bribery (or danegeld) by another name. British businesses are prosecuted for bribery to increase their influence.

The second is untrue in both its assumptions. It is not "wealth" where we have a deficit. Neither is there anything 'moral' about David Cameron forcibly taking money from poor British people (on pain of imprisonment) to give to rich people in 'third world' countries (after P T Bauer).

Moreover this sort of government aid is often bad for the recipients as Dambisa Moyo points out in her book, Dead Aid.

What will help third world countries, as opposed to third world dictators as DfID "aid" does, is to trade fairly with them. An example: "the EU’s industrial fishing fleets are increasingly moving into foreign waters and depriving local communities of a major food source" (Greenpeace 19-06-2011). 'Aid' is not a substitute for stealing their fish. It is indeed ironic that the complete incompetence of the EU's CFP, and its immoral fish dumping policy, should deprive Africans of a living, driving them to dependence on "aid" instead.

DfID is a calamity for poor people - in this country, as well as in third world countries.

JS said...

I have no doubt the spending of foreign aid could be improved, but we shouldn't allow that to affect the amount we spend. I am not surprised DC has ring-fenced it, its a great legacy, he can finish knowing - whatever else he did in parliament, he helped increase the amount of money distributed to the truly poor in the world. I feel a sense of pride seeing the UKs name near the top of a table for once (although it means very little without a reference to per capita GDP). Of all the things to get incensed about..

Sandalista said...

You've left out military spending which is always used for overseas "aid"

US is particularly generous at 3.8% - but the winners are Oman @ 11% and Israel at 6%.

Nick Drew said...

well you know my theory

some achingly lovely-in-a-mature-way Tory lady (probably wife of a massive Tory donor), whose 'hobby' is exotic overseas charidee work, put her hand on Dave's knee at some candle-lit donor-dinner in a Cotswolds mansion in 2008 and said in a sultry, pleading voice

now you will promise to ringfence the aid budget won't you David dahling?

and he said yes, yes of course I will Margot

and then because he's 'loyal to his friends', that's it, against all disagreement around the strategy table

(we had better not try to imagine how the gay marriage policy came about ...)

E-K said...

I don't think FA is particularly a Ukip issue - lots of different voters point to FA when they are told their resources are being cut.

Personally I know the clever games being played with FA and that it can have hidded benefits for our country.

Our main concern is our continued membership of the EU, returning the control of our own laws and - of course - control of our own borders.

Not an end to immigration, just sensible control of it.

BE can question my motives, decency and integrity all he likes.

Above all other reasons I'm voting Ukip because I'm sick of being told how bad I am by people like him.

If he wants to know why his party could lose the election then he needs to calm down and take a look in the mirror.

Bill Quango MP said...

Thanks Budgie -You have mentioned this before. What we must figure out is WHY the government, or all stripes, do what they do. To borrow another 'Sir Humphreyism'
Minister, with respect, - If you must do this damned silly thing, then don't do it in this damned silly way.

JS - I'm curious why we should have a set level of spending on aid? Why?

Recently the BBC said comic relief has raised some £1 billion in its 30 year history.And at least some of that money goes to actual foreign aid. HMG could just say "we will match fund these projects .." and then list the most respectable. - The rest of the cash - dish out to the agencies to 'spread the benefits of the uk' and call it something else.

I'm sure people would be less angry doing it that way .

Sandalista - no,haven't left it out. Its mentioned. We know foreign aid is used to help exports. especially arms.
Personally I'd reduce our arms industry. Did a post a few years ago showing how many UZi and successor weapons have been sold worldwide. Its in the millions of millions. Compare to the few thousand of the SA-80 that we pitch abroard. In fact, in small arms, UK is at the bottom of the bottom of exports,and has always been so.

ND - Yes I remember that. And lol to the marriage act idea.

EK - I do think its mostly a Kipper issue. Lab have not said yea or nay to ringfence..but they would do exactly the same. Libs would probably increase it.
UKIP would axe it. That comes up time after time.
I don't think in a specifically racist way. More a practical one .. why are we giving X when we only have Y?

Farage goes on about it a lot.

Bill Quango MP said...

JS - I understand the idea of sharing first nations wealth. Back to that comic relief - £1bn over 30 years raised.

In the US the NCAA Basketball tournament - this is the amateur college games , attracts $1 billion in advertising revenue, just this month.

So,we in the west have the money. Few dispute that.
Its the giving it to whichever tribal leader has bribed or murdered his/her way to the top job that is the bit people worry about.

CityUnslicker said...

The £1.5 trillion debt is the real elephant in the room.

One of the key reasons people shout 'racist, biggot, capitalist' or some such at anyone who dares question FA is that it is in fact a EU spending, to much other middle-class ethics spending like the BBC.

Meanwhile in the real world disabled UK people and families struggle, the poor have their benefits cut.

To me so much of prioritisation is wrong in the way we spend what we have an accumulate more debt.

5 years of FA has added £50 billion to out £1.5 billion debt -3.3% extra for our children to pay off.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed to most of your points and the implied conclusion on 'what we should do'.

ivan said...

If there mist be FA then let us do it correctly.

At the moment it is not doing what it should be doing, improving the lot of the people in the recipient country. For that to happen there would need to be a radical rethink of how the money is spent.

The most cost effective way of using FA would be to contract (very careful and tight wording of the contracts) with british companies to supply construct and install things like CCGT power stations and the necessary infrastructure in the developing nations - and teach them how to run and maintain it, large scale agricultural machinery with servicing stations - again with teaching the local people how to do it, roads and other infrastructure and so on.

That way the recipient country is improved and its people end up with a better lifestyle and the money does not evaporate into thin air or some Swiss bank account.

I know this would upset some NGOs but there would be nothing stopping them from raising the money they want and then continue with the piddling little things they like to do for the 'poor natives'.

dearieme said...

Why not give us a "per capita" list?

Anyway, I have two objections of principle against foreign aid.

(i) Governments are for doing collectively what we can't do individually. Since we can give foreign aid individually, the correct sum for government to give is zero.

(ii) The harm it does is probably considerable: Bauer was very persuasive on this point.

So it should be stopped. Simple. If we want to give bribes we should have a transparent bribery budget, though naturally we won't publish the distribution list of the bribes.

JS said...

All the bloggers are commenting today :) @ Bill, looking at the points raised here, FA needs protecting as its so easy to attack. It offers no immediate benefit to those nearest to us, it may be poorly spent, and its very difficult to judge how successful its been. I guess the same may be also true of military spending..

@CU Yes, the elephant in the room is the debt, but that is true, and is ignored, for all the other budgetary decisions. Also are you really comparing the living conditions of British poor people compared with some abroad ?

Nick Drew said...

@ dearieme - naturally we won't publish the distribution list of the bribes

some years ago I was doing a lot of business in a Foreign Country, working for a US firm

one day I got a call to visit a firm in Canada on a very plausible business pretext, so off I went

they quickly dispensed with the formalities and said: look, you are subject to the (US) Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, so you can't bribe your counterparties in the Foreign Country

... but we can! - you pay us, we do the business

and at that, they produced a brochure of all the people on their books 'for hire', with photos and biogs etc - I was dealing regularly with half of them (as they well knew)

I made my excuses & left, as they say

Anonymous said...

maybe I'm thick but is not a large amount of money paid to EU used as foreign aid - to members like France?

Should this be included in the overseas aid sum?

Bill Quango MP said...

Anon - The EU, as an entity, is the largest contributor to foreign aid in the world.

On the EU budget 2007 some - €7,292m foreign aid.

The EU is the world's largest aid donor, if you include donations by individual member states.

Within the member states, spending is mostly focused on the countries along the EU borders. This money funds cross-border projects to foster good relations with neighbouring countries, which may also receive direct funds for other projects. Money is also given to candidate countries, such as Turkey and Croatia.

Development aid goes to reduce poverty and boost economic development in Latin America, Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and South Africa.

Steven_L said...

It's the same reason politicians won't speak out against the anti-tobacco lobby.

They are scared of the criticism.

BE said...

I see that Britain, the most generous country in the world™ has a rather lower per capita aid budget than Norway. Are we to assume that as soon as we leave the EU, the UK will massively increase its aid budget?

Greetings from Norway, by the way, where lefty metrolibs appear to be in high demand.

Suffragent said...

Finally we are getting back to CAPITALISTS at work and how we should cut government spending instead of previous weeks bilge about who should be taxed to pay the deficit. Unfortunately the FA budget is always going to be in the scope during hard times. I think it would reflect badly on us as a nation to cut it (but it shouldn’t be ring fenced). Yes it could be better spent* but try and name any government department that is less corrupt. It’s easy to point out foreign dictators who have benefited but what about the slum landlords here who are building empires due to the housing benefits, aircraft carriers with no planes so some boggle eyed loon can have a safe seat till his retirement, care homes for our elderly, child protection for our children and don’t get CU started on the Climate and Energy bandits or EK on the EU. The fact is the state doesn’t do anything for the benefit of others, with OUR money, it does it for themselves. How do we rid ourselves of these parasites so we can clear the Debt in one generation?
And 10 (counting to oneself)
CU watch yer buns. Went to the local council office but I couldn’t get in and all the staff were standing in carpark. Apparently the whole building was stuffed with elephants.
*When it comes to FA the real Barbar in the room is population growth. Like we have done in the west, if you take away peoples ability/responsibility to provide for themselves and give them unlimited food and spare time, you end up with a rapidly increasing population of uneducated* dependents, whose only pass time is to produce more. May sound harsh but its nature and maths, two pillars in my thinking.
* Uneducated* in the terms of not being able to carve a fishing canoe etc, which is more important than reading in some parts of the world.

E-K said...

BQ - In my lowly circles everyone's talking about foreign aid and immigration - whether they vote Lab, Con, everyone.

This includes some pretty ardent union types too.

I can see an effort to tar Ukip with the same brush as the BNP. I'm tired of people lying about us. The Daily Mail is in overdrive - I have bought it for nearly thirty years but haven't since the European Elections and put the money I've saved to Ukip instead.

I've voted Tory for 32 years.

Never again.

If Cameron can't beat Miliband it really isn't my fault. What I actually want is a proper Conservative Party - not Ukip.

E-K said...

BE - Stop sneering. Carry on and the more old ladies I take to the polling booths and help not to get confused with the Ukip-a-like candidates. Just to piss you off.

I meant personal altruism. The British are the most generous and accommodating of people - proven by the fact that it is the destination of choice and by the billions that are raised in charity events.

Stop doing us down.

E-K said...

Off topic - slightly.

We are being told that the jobs-galore includes many skilled posts.

How much training ?

1 year ? 2 ? Three ???

Post graduate qualifications ? Indentured apprenticeships ?

All I know is this.

My work place has been offering placements for training in a job with good prospects, a good salary and a pension. Something that many capable Londonders would kill for (be they female, black or white. I don't care.)

Around 30% of the new recruits are newly arrived EU migrants. Many with a poor grasp of Enlish (for safety critical roles.)

I think we're doing enough foreign aid. As Cameron says. We are the jobs factory of Europe. Taking in the EU's unemployed and giving them preference over our own.

BE said...

Anyone who is out-competed by a newly-arrived migrant with no network, no recognised qualifications, and who doesn't even speak Enlish needs to ask themselves some difficult questions.

CityUnslicker said...

BE - how are they out competed - they remain on benefits living a shit life for free - much to their gaiety,

John in Cheshire said...

We should only give aid to Christians.

BE said...

Precisement. And yet more of my tax money goes to them than to genuinely poor people who have no way of dragging themselves out of their mire. And I am called a lefty. Lol.

Bill Quango MP said...

I don't think there any lefties here. We've seen them all off over the years. They tie themselves into such ideological knots they expire.

All good arguments here today.
Well made and well put.

Particularly liked the phrase "the real Barbar in the room"

i like the way only people of a certain vintage will understand it. Others will wonder why someone is referring to a mis-spelt wax jacket.

BE said...

Well I have just given some money to a kids charity in Africa, thus depriving the UK Treasury of some tax money. Win, win.