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UK set to end aid for India: Report

Britain is preparing to end its aid programme to India and is unlikely to renew its commitment after 2015, a media report said on Sunday.

world Updated: Mar 19, 2012 00:51 IST

Britain is preparing to end its aid programme to India and is unlikely to renew its commitment after 2015, a media report said on Sunday.

Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, has made it clear that his department’s 1.6-billion-pound programme for the former colony is in its final phases and will be wound up as the Indian economy booms and its own efforts to alleviate poverty become increasingly effective, The Sunday Times said. “We are walking the last mile with them,” he said.

At present, the UK government has publicly committed to funding aid programmes in India until 2015.

While more than 1 billion pounds has been sent to India over the past five years, 600 million pounds remain committed.

However, Mitchell failed to commit to renewing aid to India beyond that date, the daily said.

“I completely understand why people question the aid programme to India, and we questioned it ourselves. That’s why we reviewed every aspect of it when we came into government and changed it fundamentally. The fact is we didn’t mess around. We won’t be there forever,” he was quoted as saying.

Officials fear that pulling out before 2015 would spark a diplomatic row and risk destabilising vital aid projects in the poorest countries by raising question marks over whether spending pledges will be honoured, the report said.

“However, there is growing political pressure to end aid to a country that boasts its own space programme and spends 70 billion pounds a year on poverty alleviation, dwarfing Britain’s contribution,” the daily said.