Penny Mordaunt says she supports the 0.7 per cent target on aid spending
Penny Mordaunt revealed she supports the 0.7 per cent target on aid spending and claims it is a “reflection of us as a big-hearted, open-minded and far-sighted nation”.
However, foreign aid secretary added that the money could be better spent and under her leadership “it will also continue to be firmly in the national interest and hard-headed too”.
She said: “I will not invest when others should be putting their hands in their pockets. It will no longer be enough for a project simply to be achieving good things.
“I want the governments of developing countries to step up and take responsibility for investing in their own people, in healthcare or education, for example.
“If it chooses not to, that will inform our decisions around our funding. We will continue to prioritise investments in saving lives, tackling undernutrition, improving health and getting kids a quality education.
“But our focus will increasingly be on helping developing countries stand on their own feet and build sustainable health and education systems that they invest in themselves.”
Ms Mordaunt added that the public have “legitimate” concerns about the UK’s £13 billion aid budget and they have the right to question whether it should be spent on “domestic needs” or paying down the national debt.
The UK gave £1.5 billion of its aid budget to “middle-income countries” in 2016, with Pakistan, Nigeria and Jordan among the biggest beneficiaries.
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Nearly £100 million in aid was given to India, even though it is a nation with its own space programme – but the amount has reduced significantly since the Government promised to stop “traditional financial aid” to the country.
Another £46 million was given to China, despite it being pegged to be the world’s biggest economy, and £53 million was given to Brazil despite it too being an emerging economy.
Writing in The Telegraph, she added: “Nagging doubts persist for many about what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how we go about it. It is not that people are ungenerous or uncaring. Quite the opposite. Most people in Britain give to a charity.
“People consistently dig deep. They volunteer their time as well as their money. They care deeply about others around the world.
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“What they question is the weight and resource given to this task by their parliament and their government, especially when there are domestic needs and a national debt to address. I understand those legitimate questions.”
The International Development Secretary said she will use the UK’s aid as part of a “bold new Brexit-ready proposition to boost trade and investment with developing countries”, offering a “win-win” for both Britain and developing nations.
Alongside the Department for International Trade, Ms Mordaunt said she will promote sustainable economic development and job creation.
She also said the UK will cut off aid to countries which do not invest in services for the benefit of their people.
Nearly £100 million in aid was given to India, even though it has its own space programme
The Minister continued: “I will cut funding to organisations that do not deliver on targets we set.
“We work with some fantastic partners, who deliver the gold standard in results and value for money.
“Gavi, the global vaccination organisation, generates incredible returns, saving millions of lives every year. But some others do not and they are on notice.”
Ms Mordaunt added she will set out the case for foreign aid as it is within the national interest for the UK’s security and prosperity.
Aid will be cut off to countries which do not invest in services for the benefit of their people
The Tory MP confirmed she will also ensure money is spent on issues within the national interest, such as plastic pollution and the illegal wildlife trade.
Ms Mordaunt said: “Meanwhile, with the Ministry of Defence, we’re looking at how we can further strengthen civilian-military cooperation to reduce costs and get the most from our development and defence assets.
“And with DWP, we’re exploring how the International Citizen Service – the UK’s global volunteering scheme – can help young Brits get the skills they need to find jobs here in the UK.
“We will create more such opportunities with every part of Whitehall, to deliver for the world’s poor while supporting our domestic agenda.”