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Aid should be about the poor, not the rich

Written by Jonathan Glennie

Responding to the UK International Development Select Committee report into aid to Pakistan ODI Research Fellow Jonathan Glennie said:

“It’s sensible to weigh up the pros and cons of increasing aid to Pakistan and this report certainly presents the Government with a potential headache ahead of increasing our spending – however Pakistan is not the only country in the world having difficulty getting its elite to pay a greater share of their income in tax.

It is important to recognise that aid should be targeted first and foremost at the poorest people in the world and helps contribute to security and sustainability. Government-to-government aid only makes up part of the picture. There are many examples of where aid can provoke governments to improve their development efforts such as increasing their tax take, and where that doesn’t happen, aid can work round governments to reach the poorest, supporting non-state sectors like the business and local NGOs. What DFID needs to do now is take a deep breath and ensure it has learnt all it can from those examples before committing extra funds.

Pakistan has reduced extreme poverty from two-thirds of its population in 1990 to only a fifth today, this has been done with the support of the international community. But over 100m people still live in desperate poverty (under $2/day). The UK remains a rich country with the ability to help them and the recent downturn doesn’t change that.”