This latest news to come out concerning the foreign aid budget just emphasises that the UK needs to do real trade with countries around the world, not just tick foreign aid budget boxes.
One of the latest story on this is that it turns out that £9 million of UK foreign aid that was spent on trying to bolster the northern Nigerian meat and leather sector, actually resulted in the expensive export of useless rocks.
In fact according to a File on Four investigation for BBC R4 an impossible figure of tens of millions of animals would have to have been slaughtered in 2010 to justify the figures concerned. And the opening remarks about the size of the scams involved and that ‘you could get killed for that amount of money’ should have UK taxpayers questioning our current foreign aid policy, instead of blindly repeating the mantra that it must good because it’s got the words ‘foreign’ and ‘aid’ in it.
Then we learn that "taxpayers have forked out a staggering £7.4million to help fund a sheep farming project…in Uruguay" via the European Union.
There is also the matter of the amount of public money spent on private sector specialists to disburse this aid money. A massively booming industry it seems.
Surely the UK can do better than this?
For the best example of foreign aid the UK has given in the last few years look no further than the Ebola crisis. We sent brave, dedicated people, expertise and medicine quickly and efficiently to the place it was most needed with outstanding results. This is what foreign aid should be about, not just handing cash over to any old chancer because we have aid targets to meet.
Once we’ve targeted our aid better (and probably reduced the bill significantly in the process) what we should then be doing is looking at ways of opening up trade with these countries so that, if leather is produced and paid for it is leather that gets exported, not rocks. With the profits going to farmers and producers, not thieves and fraudsters.
Far from helping it seems that foreign aid is just extending the life of scams and enriching those that commit crime, not those ‘hard-working families’ in foreign lands looking for their own 'long term economic plan'.