A letter to the Daily Telegraph (22 August 2010) recently caught CB3’s eye:
SIR – The parlous state of the public finances in Britain provides the perfect opportunity for British taxpayers to end their half-century-long experiment with “development aid”, which has, since its inception, stunted growth and subsidised bad governance in Africa.
As Africans, we urge the generous-spirited British to reconsider an aid programme they can ill afford, and which we do not want or need. A real offer from the British people to help our development would consist of the abolition of the Common Agricultural Policy, which keeps African agricultural exports out of the European marketplace.
It is that egregious policy, combined with the weight of regulations, bad laws and stifling bureaucracy, subsidised by five decades of development aid, which prevents Africans from lifting themselves out of poverty.
Andrew Mitchell, the Secretary of State for International Development, speaks about a “moral imperative” to combat poverty around the world. We could not agree more. The British have a unique opportunity to cut the deficit and help Africa: please, ask your new government to stop your aid.
Editor, Independent newspaper, Uganda
Executive Director, IMANI Center for Policy and Education, Ghana
Lecturer, University of Ghana and Ashesi University, Ghana
Executive Director, Initiative for Public Policy
Now, the notion or concept of free market trade, tariff barriers, CAP, competitive advantage etc do not tend to feature in the public’s eye when considering providing aid and succour to the African continent (or elsewhere for that matter). Charities, doing sterling work, do concentrate on gaining funding from a variety of donors, but with cries of rampant corruption in aid-receiving nations, an increased desire of the public to see where there hard-earned cash is going and severe cuts in government aid packages, perhaps now is the time to look again at campaigning and lobbying for regulatory change, requiring people’s support, some of their time, but less from their currently beleagured financial coffers.
Of course,the major charities do so already, but is it a time to increase the emphasis on this tack, and tackle what many, including the contributors above, consider, with reasonable justification, the main obstacle to real development? It’s a difficult sell, but with the current problems of aid funding coupled with the continuing recession, the timing may be prescient.