London: Britain is preparing to end its aid
programme to a booming India and is unlikely to renew its
commitment after 2015, a media report on Sunday said.
Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary,
has made it clear that his department`s 1.6 billion pounds
programme for the former colony is in its final phases and
will be wound up as the Indian economy booms and its own
efforts to alleviate poverty become increasingly effective,
The Sunday Times said.
"We are walking the last mile with them," he said.
At present the UK government has publicly committed to
funding aid programmes in India until 2015.
While, more than 1 billion pounds has been sent to India
over the past five years, 600 million pounds remain committed.
However...Mitchell conspicuously failed to commit to
renewing aid to India beyond that date, the daily said.
"I completely understand why people question the aid
programme to India and we questioned it ourselves. That`s why
we reviewed every aspect of it when we came into government
and changed it fundamentally.
"The fact is we didn`t mess around. . . We won`t be there
for ever," he was quoted as saying.
Officials fear that pulling out before 2015 would spark a
diplomatic row and risk destabilising vital aid projects in
the poorest countries by raising question marks over whether
spending pledges will be honoured, the report said.
"However, there is growing political pressure to end aid
to a country that boasts its own space programme and spends 70
billion pounds a year on poverty alleviation, dwarfing the
Britain`s contribution," the daily said.
A YouGov survey by the daily found that 66 per cent
thought Britain spent too much on foreign aid and 69 per cent
thought Britain should stop giving aid to India. YouGov polled
1,727 adults on Thursday and Friday.
Aid to Russia and China has also been subject to the axe
since Mitchell took over his brief in May 2010.
"We expect value for every single pound. If we don`t see
results, we are absolutely ruthless in stopping money," he
While certain quarters were vocal against the UK funding
to India for a long time, it gathered momentum after UK-backed
Eurofighter Typhoon failed to bag the multi-billion defence
aircraft contract from New Delhi.
Unlike other departments, which have faced cuts, the
Department for International Development`s budget is rising 35
per cent in real terms by 2015.
It follows a high-profile pledge by David Cameron, backed
by the Liberal Democrats, to spend 0.7 per cent of Britain`s
national income on good causes overseas an amount seen as
excessively generous by many grassroots Tories and some MPs,
the daily said.
The coalition has promised to enshrine it in law, but
there has been no sign of the bill in the Commons, prompting
Labour MPs to suggest the government may be trying to wriggle
out of it, the Times said.