According to the National Strategic Assessment of Organised Crime, recently unveiled by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Home Office under Sajid Javid, there is the suspicion that millions of pounds in UK international aid is being appropriated for organised criminals by corrupt foreign officials. Mr Javid has admitted there is a direct link between street drug-dealing, people-trafficking and corrupt overseas officials who provide services and safe havens for international criminal networks.
Britain’s exceptionally generous foreign aid budget is set at 0.7 per cent of national income, which in 2016 amounted to £13.4billion and is projected to rise to £14.5billion in 2021. According to the Daily Mail, the NCA is carrying out a ‘number’ of investigations into British cash being stolen or even handed to crime syndicates in poverty-stricken countries by their own corrupt regimes. NCA director general Lynne Owens said the agency’s international crime unit was working closely with the Department for International Development.
We wish her luck.
Karen Harradine looked into this for The Conservative Woman over a year ago.
She concluded there was little to justify the 0.7 per cent of national income target set by the UN as long ago as 1970; one that very few other countries actually meet. Only another four in fact, viz Norway, Luxembourg, Sweden and Denmark. The US and Japan languish at below 0.3 per cent. How come that the UK got so magnanimous? It signed up to the UN target in 1974 but achieved it for the first time only in 2013. In 2015 it was made statutory, though it’s not a duty which can be enforced through the courts. However, if it is not met, the International Development Secretary has to explain to Parliament why not.
The Full Fact website says that two-thirds of the department’s spending goes to direct projects in individual countries (‘bilateral’ payments), with the rest going via organisations such as the UN. By far the most spending goes to Africa and Asia, and in 2016, the top five recipients were as follows:
Pakistan – £463million
Syria – £352million
Ethiopia – £334million
Nigeria – £320million
Afghanistan – £235million
And even India got £186million.
Full Fact also makes spending comparisons. The £13.4billion total for 2016 is approximately 10 per cent of NHS spending in England. It’s more than all spending on police in England and Wales. Draw your own conclusions when you contemplate the latest knife and gun crime statistics in London, or the plight of the elderly and disabled who cannot access social care.
So, is this foreign aid largesse exclusively humanitarian and philanthropic? Does it demonstrate that the UK ‘so loves the world’ that it pours more of its national income into the third world than, for example, into its own police service? Karen Harradine has argued many of DFID’s grants are entirely unjustifiable, such as the reinstated £25million grant to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the face of concerns that the money was used to pay families of suicide bombers and the monthly salaries of terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails. .
Now a crackdown has been promised – terrorists stripped of passports, kicking out untouchable organised criminals. But the funding goes on. In response to the Daily Mail’s latest exposé of where all the money ends up, Tory MP Andrew Percy has claimed that the government has to get ‘a better handle on foreign aid spending’.
Perhaps when Mr Javid, in the course of his new investigation, gets to the bottom of exactly where all this DFID money goes to, into whose hands, to be dispensed into what other pockets, he might decide the quickest route to stopping crime and corruption would be to close the department and its budget down.
It’s high time the Government got its priorities straight – face the crime cost of international virtue-signalling, put the country’s protection first and, at the same time, do the right thing by the British people.