The UK continues to give millions of pounds in aid to India, Brazil and China, an expenses watchdog said on Wednesday, rebuking the British government for misleading the public into believing that aid to these countries have been phased out.
The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), which audits tax-payer funded spending by the British government, said the UK continued to give millions of pounds to these middle-income, fast developing countries.
“The UK may no longer have a traditional aid relationship with these countries but it is spending [official development assistance] in Brazil, India and China – and it is rather diffident about admitting this,” the report said.
The British government had announced an end to its aid budget for India at the close of 2015 to establish a new kind of developmental relationship.
But despite a public announcement on this change, the UK continued to give indirect aid to India, including 30 million pounds for technical assistance and 40 million pounds for “development capital investment”, ICAI claims.
The commission also criticises UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), now led by Indian-origin minister Priti Patel, for “significant shortcomings” in the way it plans for change in its aid relationships with countries.
“While DfID’s public statements on the subject have been accurate, the earlier publicity given to exit from China and India potentially created an impression that all aid was being phased out. Against that background, the reasons for continuing and then scaling up assistance have not been clearly communicated to the UK public,” the report said.
In a statement, DfID described the review as inaccurate and not reflecting the whole story.
A DfID spokesperson said: “DfID is a world leader in helping countries leave aid dependency behind and stand on their own two feet, building a safer, more prosperous world.
“We are disappointed that Icai has rushed the publication of this inaccurate report that simply does not tell the whole story.
“As countries build upon their economic development, Britain is determined to strengthen strategic partnerships that facilitate trade, boost business and combat poverty. DfID’s work supports these partnerships in a manner that provides value for money, always helps the world’s poorest and is open and transparent to the British public.”