Adam Smith International faces claims that it falsified costs to a panel of MP’s
Adam Smith International (ASI) which conducted projects such as the privatisation of the electricity supply in Nigeria, was paid £103million in foreign aid in the last financial year alone, figures released by an aid watchdog showed.
In total it was paid £462million in the last five years, according to a report from the watchdog the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI).
The shocking revelation comes as readers continue to back our Stop The Foreign Aid Madness crusade demanding the Government reallocates some of the £13.3billion of taxpayers’ money sent overseas to easing problems at home.
ASI, which received the huge sums to carry out development projects in Africa and Asia for the UK government, has defended its activities as having been in “good faith”.
The Department for International Development has 21 live contracts with ASI
It is well-known that having a fixed amount to spend, will lead to widespread abuses of the system
But the report found that ASI pulled out of the bidding process for new contracts and four executives quit following growing pressure over its operations.
In March, ASI announced its founding executives Andrew Kuhn, Amitabh Shrivastava and Peter Young would step down while William Morrison, a founding director and ASI’s executive chairman, would also leave after leading ASI through a ‘restructuring’.
The Department for International Development (DfID) has 21 live contracts with ASI but has not signed any new deals or extended existing agreements since December last year.
The consultancy faces allegations it falsified submissions to a committee of MPs and made use of improperly obtained government documents for commercial gain.
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Alison Evans, ICAI’s chief commissioner, said: “Ensuring that a wide range of suppliers is able to bid and compete for DfID contracts is important to ensure that UK aid programmes have access to specialist skills at the best possible price.
“Overall we found the department had a welcome increase of ambition in this area, and a positive direction of travel, including the many of the initiatives announced in the recently-published supplier review.
“However, there are some important areas where improvement is needed, such as tackling the constraints facing local suppliers, pushing ahead with open-book accounting for greater transparency, and addressing long and complex procurement processes.”
Taxpayers’ groups attacked the profligacy of the Government’s foreign aid programme.
Alison Evans stated that constraints facing local contractors needs to be addressed
John O’Connell, Chief Executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance: “It is well-known that having a fixed amount to spend, in this case 0.7per cent of GDP, will lead to widespread abuses of the system.
“Large companies with departments dedicated to winning government contracts will always be able to grab taxpayers’ cash if the department is more focused on getting money out the door than measuring the good it can do.
“The government needs to scrap the 0.7per cent target and massively rein in the wasteful spending rife in the system.”
The new report found the Government has made “positive progress” in improving competition among its contractors and in achieving value for money.
But it said it was too early to judge some of the reforms that have been introduced and gave DfID an overall green-amber assessment for its approach.
It warned that the department has been slow to exercise new accounting methods that would make supplier fee rates and costs more transparent, ICAI said.
And it warned the complex and lengthy nature of aid programmes could “lead to an imbalance of information” between DfID and its suppliers, particularly larger organisations involved in previous contracts.
“Such firms have advantages over new entrants and the potential to use their market power to increase their profits,” it said.
Last night, DfID insisted that existing aid suppliers do not receive preferential treatment and the system was being simplified to make it easier for smaller organisations to win contracts.
A spokeswoman said: “ICAI’s report rightly recognises that DFID is making positive progress and serious effort to achieve value for money through its work with suppliers.
“The International Development Secretary recently announced tough new reforms to clamp down on the risk of profiteering, excessive charges and unethical practices – ICAI’s recommendations do not take this into account.”
The Express’s crusade wants to see our underfunded health service, creaking social care system and elderly services prioritised.
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Overseas aid was a central plank of David Cameron’s time in Downing Street.
When he took office in 2010, Britain’s contribution as a percentage of the overall global burden was as high as 10 per cent.
The policy has not been altered by Theresa May and it is now a legal requirement to spend 0.7 per cent of our gross national income on overseas development assistance.
The donation is the second largest in the world in terms of volume behind the US, which contributes the equivalent of about £25billion, or 0.18 per cent of the country’s income.
In 2015 the top five recipients of UK aid were Pakistan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria.
But millions of pounds are still being given to major economic powerhouses like China and India.
Mr O’Connell, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, added: “The UK is still borrowing tens of billions every year and yet we send billions abroad with little accountability.
“We hear all the time that the NHS needs more money and that there are no savings left to make, but we still see widespread abuse of the system through health tourists not paying for their care.
“Instead, the Government should scrap the 0.7 per cent spending target and be more open about where our money is going.”