Great Britain is to stop giving development aid to China and Russia as part of a government plan to target financial help to the world's poorest nations, the newly installed Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell MP, has said today.
China, the world's third biggest and fastest growing economy, received just over £40 million a year from the UK in 2008-09, while Russia, which is a member of the elite G8 group of developed nations, also received £373,000 that year.
The figures have come to light through close inspection of the COINS database that was released two weeks ago by the incoming coalition government to promote transparency. The database contains details of 24 million transactions documenting where public money comes from, what it is spent on and whose pocket it ends up in.
However, the stopping of financial aid to these countries will not be immediate, it will be phased out "as soon as practical and responsible".
While very surprising that these two financial powers feature among the 90 countries that currently share the £2.9 billion a year dispensed by the UK in bilateral aid, Mr Mitchell also reaffirmed his stance that the UK taxpayer’s money should be spent where it did most good.
"For some countries, aid is a vital safety net that saves lives every day,” he said. “UK money should be spent helping the poorest people in the poorest countries, with every penny making a real difference by giving families the chance of a better future.”
“It is not justifiable to continue to give aid money to China and Russia. Other country programmes which are less effective will be closed or reduced and the savings will be redirected towards those countries where they can make the most difference.”
The coalition government has ring-fenced the Department for International Development from spending cuts and pledged to meet the legally binding target set by Labour of providing an aid budget of 0.7% GDP to fulfil its pledge vis-à-vis the UN Millennium Development Goals.