Britain may withhold foreign aid in transparency drive

AFP , Tuesday 20 Sep 2011

Britain tries to promote government transparency in developing nations by withholding aid to those who do not meet strict criteria

Britain could withhold international aid to countries that fail to give sufficient details on how they spend the money, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude is to announce Tuesday.

Maude will reveal the measures in a speech at the launch in New York of the Open Government Partnership, a group promoting government transparency in developing nations.

"Transparency can be transformative. It can help build trust, efficiency and save lives," he said in comments ahead of the meeting.

Britain's annual foreign aid budget for 2011/2012 is £8.7 billion (9.9 billion euros, $13.6 billion), according to government figures.

Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this year pledged to enshrine in law a commitment to increase the figure to 0.7 per cent of gross national income by 2013 despite the introduction of a raft of austerity measures at home.

Under the new deal to be announced by Maude, Britain will consider whether a country is making progress on freedom of information, releasing government data and disclosing details of how aid is spent before it approves financial support.

Five per cent of British funds donated to each country will also be reserved for schemes to promote transparency.

The top 10 countries receiving British aid in 2010/2011 were India (£274 million), Ethiopia (£241 million), Pakistan (£215 million), Afghanistan (£178 million), Bangladesh (£157 million), Tanzania (£150 million), Nigeria (£141 million), DR Congo (£133 million), Sudan (£132 million) and Uganda (£90 million).

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