Will DfID “spend better”?
Monday, August 16, 2010
Scott Gilmore says:
"It’s possible that one of the global leaders in aid is beginning to move away from the mantra of 'Spend More!' which dominated the last twenty years, and is moving towards the idea of 'Spend Better.'"
But we're not so sure.
That would indeed be a welcome development and it may be what Andrew Mitchell wants us to believe but the devil lies in the detail, not in leaks to the Observer. DfID has not only promised to “ring-fence” aid spending, they have pushed to have a 0.7 per cent of GDP aid spending target enshrined in law. This would actually increase aid spending by a non insubstantial £2bn per year. Given that this was among their top priorities coming into Government, it’s not easy to believe “spending better before we spend more” rhetoric, much as we wish it were true.
We are particularly disappointed that the Coalition has decided how much to spend before the review into DfID’s current spending programmes has delivered its conclusions. Only a “top-down” aid agency could decide how much to spend before understanding which projects are worthy of UK taxpayer support.
The current debate in the UK re. aid appears to along the following lines: projects receiving DfID support are sporadically discussed by the media and then one of two things happen: 1) DfID rightly announces that funding to said project will be discontinued, mainly because of UK public outrage; or 2) DfID comes out in defence of the project it funds. With nothing seemingly thought through from the perspective of the aid recipients, it’s hard to take government claims to a commitment to “spend better” at face value.