Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/329/5574
Foreign Aid: Poorest Pay, Privatisers Gain
AN ARTICLE by George Monbiot in The Guardian shows how Britain's Department for International Development (DfID) is consciously targeting its foreign aid at countries who are prepared to sell off their assets to big business.
The DfID paid the Adam Smith Institute (the right-wing lobby group that has for decades been campaigning for privatisation and ironically, against government aid), £7.6m in foreign aid last year. That's more than they gave to such desperately poor countries as Liberia or Somalia.
The department hires the Institute as a consultancy that advises third-world countries how to privatise industries. Its guidance to South Africa's government led to almost ten million people having their water cut off, another ten million having their electricity cut off, and over two million people being evicted for non-payment of bills.
The government is giving £342 million to the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, 15 times what it spent last year tackling the famine in Ethiopia.
Andhra Pradesh's government, you see, is committed to mass privatisation. That policy will dispossess 20 million people from the land; even the DfID says the scheme has "negative consequences on food security" and does "nothing about providing alternative income for those displaced".
In Zambia, DfID is spending just £700,000 on improving nutrition, but £56 million on privatising the copper mines. In Ghana, they made aid payments for upgrading the water system conditional on partial privatisation. Britain's foreign aid programme is taking vital resources - water, land, utilities etc. - from the poor and handing them to the rich.
As Monbiot points out, aid has always been politically biased, and has also been designed to give aid to home-based exports. Nearly 80% of the US Agency for International Development's grants and contracts go to US firms directly.
The world is dominated by capitalism. A third of the world's private assets are under the control of at most 40,000 private companies, mostly based in the advanced capitalist countries. The profits of these greedy giants are swollen by squeezing the life out of the world's poorest people. A partial and lopsided development is the best that capitalism can offer the ex-colonial world.
Real aid designed to end world hunger and poverty will only become possible if we fight for socialism and start by taking these huge companies into democratic public ownership. We could then start to plan a real increase in world living standards to end world poverty and hunger.
In The Socialist 10 January 2004:
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