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Profligate or duty bound?

This week, and for many weeks, George Osborne will be taking steps to rein in unnecessary expenditure, halt future white elephant projects and seek ways to reduce the Brown/Blair legacy of £157 bn pounds deficit. The newspapers are talking up the prospect of cuts to the tune of £6bn a mere 3.82% of the overall sum. The previous Government should be in court for the ruinous state they've left the UK Ltd finances in and it says much about their policies that a whole quango (the Qualifications & Curriculum Development Agency) can be cut to the saving of £500m per annum to no ill effect other than saving money, add to this the waste of the ID scheme and another £500m per annum is magically saved.  As the figures begin to surface I'd also like to see a reduction in the foreign aid budget.

The Department for International Development (DFID) is to a degree quite guarded about its budget but I was rather astonished to see that its 2008/2009 expenditure amounted to £7,183m of which the aid programme was £5,803m, 81% of total. The expenditure increase was up 19% on the previous year, something our pensioners would be overjoyed to hear. The biggest recipients of funds are, in order of payment size, India, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Tanzania (Zimbabwe is in the table too). Personally I have trouble with these sums, why do we pay India £297m per annum when they have just moved into the nuclear age, has one of the biggest armies in the world and, just to put this in perspective, is about to launch its own foreign aid package. How can they need our funds if they can afford to give their own away?

Both India and Ethiopia do not allow the aid to be distributed by charities rather it all goes into a Government purse for onward distribution. We can only wonder at the percentage finally reaching the needy and destitute.

Some may argue that these payments are a legacy of colonialism (when do we stop paying?), some will argue that it goes with being a modern power (risible that one), and some will argue that they should be halted or changed.

What's your view?



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