'Made up money' padding aid budget, critics claim

 

Britain has been accused of padding its aid budget with "made up money" so it can claim to have met its millennium promise of increasing the amount it donates to the world's poorest people.

The Department for International Development, headed by Andrew Mitchell, has confirmed that cancelling the debts of some of the world's poorest countries will count towards the aid total, helping the UK to achieve its millennium target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid by 2014.

One of the most controversial debts is the millions that the Sudanese nominally owes for weapons purchased during the Cold War. The money was loaned in the late 1970s by an agency of what is now the Department for Business, at interest rates of 10-12 per cent per year, which have added £405m to the original £173m loan, bringing it to £678m.

The Government is no longer able to say what this money was used to buy. Earlier this year, the Labour MP Lisa Nandy asked questions in Parliament about what the original loans were for, and was told the records have been lost.

But in the late 1970s, the west was arming Sudan as a counterweight to the Marxist regime in neighbouring Ethiopia, which was backed by the Soviet Union, because of fears that communist influence in the Horn of Africa could threaten oil supplies.

The arms sales ended around the time when Sudan descended into civil war between the predominantly Muslim Arab north and the Christian, African south. There have been no repayments on the loans since 1984. The debt is expected to be cancelled in 2013-14, a formality which will instantly add 7 per cent to the UK's nominal aid budget.

Tim Jones, the senior policy officer at the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: "The debt comes from loans to win business for Britain in the Cold War. Most of the debt is made-up money based on ridiculously high interest rates. It should be cancelled because it is unjust and unpayable, not used to meet targets and massage figures."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Fertility Nurse

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join the ho...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash