Letter: Malaysian views on media freedom; British attitudes to aid and trade

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The Independent Online
Sir: In your leading article 'Aid, trade and Great Britain plc' (4 March), you rightly argue for future aid projects to be more clearly poverty-focused and for legislation to be introduced - ensuring a clear separation of export subsidies and aid.

If control of the Aid and Trade Provision budget were to be transferred to the Department of Trade and Industry, it would undoubtedly become a 'slush fund' for oiling the wheels of diplomacy while serving to benefit only those who can offer the most lucrative return for Britain regardless of the expense to the world's poor. Only when each project has been assessed and fulfils criteria laid down by the Overseas Development Administration should ATP funds be committed.

Actionaid monitors and evaluates its aid projects for their impact on the poorest groups. Our experience as a non-governmental organisation working only with the poorest communities in the Third World convinces us that the only way to ensure a poverty focus for future ATP projects is for poverty impact assessments to become mandatory. Poverty assessments are essential if we are to prevent aid projects such as Pergau being undertaken at the expense of people in the world's poorest countries.

Yours faithfully,




London, N19

4 March