DFID criticised for ending bilateral aid programmes without robust review

08 January 2014

The International Development Committee publishes its Seventh Report: The Closure of DFID's Bilateral Aid Programmes: the case of South Africa.

Commenting on recent decisions to end bilateral aid programmes in India and South Africa made just 18 months and two years respectively after the publication of the Government’s major assessment of its bilateral programmes in the Bilateral Aid Review (BAR) in 2010-11,  Sir Malcolm Bruce said:

“The BAR was a robust process, yet just 18 months and two years respectively after the publication of this major assessment of its bilateral programmes, the UK has decided to end bilateral programmes in India and South Africa.

The Secretary of State has not convinced the International Development Committee that the announcement to end the programmes in India and South Africa were in accordance with the principles and process established by the BAR. Such decisions to end a bilateral programme or to start a new one should be made only following a Bilateral Aid Review, except in exceptional cases.

We believe there is a rationale for funding bilateral programmes in some Middle Income Countries while ending them in others. However, we have concerns about the timing of the decisions and, in particular, that they are neither methodical nor transparent, but related to short term political pressures.

Moreover, the announcement of the decision to end bilateral aid to South Africa was criticised in South Africa. Hon. Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Finance, South Africa, said that no agreement had been reached with the South African Government about the announcement and, moreover, it seemed ‘there was an intention to demonstrate some kind of fiscal probity using South African assistance as a political tool”

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