Letter: Benefits of a Marshall Plan for Africa

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The Independent Online
Sir: For Margaret Daly MEP (Letters, 5 May) to dismiss your excellent leading article, ('Africa takes second place', 28 April) by claiming that it 'invokes a long litany of past mistakes to justify pouring cold water on Oxfam's proposals for a new 'Marshall Plan' for Africa' is most unconvincing.

Although she correctly endorses most elements of your realistic 'litany', her basic 'new' proposal that more Northern exports to Africa should be encouraged (by providing taxpayer-funded export support subsidies, denominated in a future Europe-wide common currency) is unrealistic (although good for Eurovotes). In fact, it combines the worst elements of Eurospeak with the discredited, failed World Bank development programmes in Africa.

The World Bank has served as the Northern economies' premier export support agency in its unbalanced trade with Africa. Some dollars 80 of any dollars 100 lent to Africa by that organisation's principal organ has returned immediately to the North, either in servicing old debt on often failed project lending, or in support of Northern suppliers of goods and services. Where Oxfam ought to continue to operate in Africa, with even greater private charitable support, is where it has been uniquely successful in the past; in private sector bottom-up developmental and famine relief work.

Until Africa's ruling elites implement policies that reverse the lamentable situation in which 80 per cent of GDPs are externalised as Flight Capital (the World Bank's most recent survey), we should discourage Northern governments from taxing its citizens in supporting the lifestyles of often self-imposed and unaccountable African governments.

Yours faithfully,



The Centre for Accountability

and Debt Relief

London, SW1