Taxpayers’ money is funding corruption in foreign countries, a damning report has revealed. The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) says the British aid is actively encouraging corrupt practices, such as bribery.
In one scheme, Britain invested millions in helping tackle police corruption in Nigeria, only for locals to say that police were even more likely to accept bribes afterwards. In another, people ended up being encouraged to forge documents to gain grants in Nepal.
The Daily Mail says that the report concludes that huge amounts of aid are being wasted because the British government is not doing enough to tackle bribery in foreign countries, and in some cases investing in programmes that actively encourage it.
The findings will be hugely embarrassing for David Cameron, who made a controversial pledge to ring-fence foreign aid spending when he became Prime Minister. He has pledged to spend 0.7 percent of national income on aid, despite fierce opposition from within his own party.
The ICAI gave the Department for International Development a poor ‘Amber-Red’ rating, criticising the fact that only a small proportion of its £10.3bn budget is specifically targeted at fighting corruption.
It said the department was not “up to the challenge” of taking on corruption and was not effectively targeting the poor. It added that while the department recognises the need to tackle corruption, it “has not delivered an approach equal to the challenge”.
It even said that the department was sometimes scared to tackled corruption out of fears of offending local politicians: “DfID’s willingness to engage in programming that explicitly tackles corruption is often constrained by political sensitivity.”
“In Nigeria, petty corruption touches virtually every aspect of life and is accepted throughout society as normal and necessary.
“We heard stories of parents paying bribes to teachers in order to educate their children; students paying bribes to administrators to take exams; workers paying bribes to get jobs and to receive their salaries; and pensioners paying bribes to receive pensions.”
The government has been trying to increase foreign aid spending in recent years, despite trying to make savings at home.
Alison McGovern, Labour’s foreign aid spokesman, said: “This damning report should send shockwaves through David Cameron’s government.
“Justine Greening should have zero tolerance of corruption – especially when it is hitting the poorest – but instead the Independent Commission has found her asleep at the wheel.”