Britain ending aid to India

18th March 2012, Comments 0 comments

Britain is winding down its aid programme to India, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell told The Sunday Times newspaper.

Britain has spent £1 billion ($1.6 billion, 1.2 billion euros) on aid programmes in India over the past five years, with another £600 million committed until 2015.

However, there is little prospect of that package being renewed as India's economy booms.

"We are walking the last mile with them," Mitchell said.

"I completely understand why people question the aid programme to India and we questioned it ourselves.

"That's why we reviewed every aspect of it when we came into government and changed it fundamentally. The fact is we didn't mess around... We won't be there for ever."

Prime Minister David Cameron has faced calls to cut the aid handouts after a series of perceived snubs from the former jewel in the crown of the British empire.

London was stunned in February when New Delhi announced a big contract to buy French warplanes instead of the UK-backed Eurofighter Typhoon, despite intense efforts by the British government to boost trade.

Cameron -- who led a huge business delegation to India soon after taking office in 2010 -- has pledged to press New Delhi to reverse its decision on the warplanes.

Britain faces another austerity budget on Wednesday in a bid to rein in Britain's deficit. However, the international development budget has been ramped up.

The government plans to enshrine in law Cameron's pledge to spend 0.7 percent of the budget on foreign aid.

A YouGov survey in The Sunday Times found that 66 percent thought Britain spent too much on foreign aid and 69 percent thought Britain should stop giving aid to India. YouGov polled 1,727 adults on Thursday and Friday.

Aid to Russia and China has also been subject to the axe since Mitchell took over his brief in May 2010.

"We expect value for every single pound. If we don't see results, we are absolutely ruthless in stopping money," he said.


© 2012 AFP

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