Rishi Sunak has been criticized for saving billions of pounds by “recycling” unforeseen money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as aid spending.
Campaigners believe the chancellor is preparing to use up a rather large portion of it in the foreign aid budget.
The government this year decided to cut aid spending from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent of national income, a move that was widely condemned and met with revolt from Conservative lawmakers.
Britain has received £19bn in payments from the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to help poor countries hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Other countries are spending their allocations from funds in addition to the current budget, but Guardian The report said Mr Sunak would stick to the internationally agreed rule that 30 percent of the IMF’s debt counts as aid.
Romily Greenhill, the UK director of Campaign Against Poverty, said she expects the government to recycle around 75 per cent of its SDR payments, saving up to £5bn in the years to come.
He called on Mr Sunak to use his spending review to change course on 27 October, adding: “It is even more outrageous that we are the only wealthy donors to consider counting this money as aid.
“The way SDRs work, this money comes at barely any cost to UK taxpayers. It is literally taking donations from those who need it most.”
Two former Conservative international development secretaries have urged the chancellor to reconsider.
Andrew Mitchell, who also led the Tory rebellion against aid cuts, said the move would have “a devastating impact on the humanitarian cause that cares for the British people and sends a terrifying message about global Britain”.
Justin Greening, in his 2012-16 role, said: “The UK has already reduced its aid spending from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of gross national income. The focus should be on having maximum impact.”
“This aid would be counter-productive to further reduce investment, effectively saving lives and keeping fragile states stable.”
Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokeswoman Laila Moran accused the government of sending a “completely wrong message” ahead of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.
“This conservative government has dealt another damaging blow to Britain’s global reputation by recycling aid money to avoid helping the world’s poorest people,” she said.
The Treasury did not deny the plans, and a government spokesman said: “The UK is one of the leading international aid donors and this year we have provided more than £10 billion for poverty reduction, climate change and global health security.
“We will return to the target of 0.7 per cent when the financial situation allows.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /