The decision to re-organise the way Britain’s Department for International (DfID) spends its £10 billion was made two years ago when Andrew Mitchell was in charge. His review of spending was in many ways sensible, switching cash away from countries such as China and Russia which are wealthy enough to run their own foreign aid projects (and space programmes). The big winner was Pakistan which is now on course to become the biggest recipient of British foreign aid – some £450 million per year by 2015.
It’s what Sir Humphrey might have called a “brave” decision.
Pakistan is officially a middle-income country with enough of its own cash to be expanding its nuclear arsenal. It has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world and two thirds of its MPs don’t pay any income tax at all. Its government accounts are so disorganised it couldn’t even tell you how much it was spending on education if you asked. One expert tells me $10 billion is stashed in some of these off-the-books accounts.
So why should the British government step in to solve Pakistan’s problems, particularly at a time when austerity measures mean our own services have been cut to the bone?
The answer, at least according to DfID, is that a developed and prospering Pakistan is in all our interests, reducing illegal (and, I guess, legal) migration and the threat of terrorism.
We need to stop all aid to Pakistan until they start collecting income tax.
Why don’t Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia help Pakistan they have more wealth than us.