Pakistan faces UK aid cut as pressures grow



Britain's aid to Pakistan could reduce significantly by next year as pressure on the government grows to cut foreign aid to all countries amidst Brexit crisis, rise in poverty at home and a parliamentary inquiry into aid for Pakistan reviewing aid from 2013 to 2018, Geo News has reported.

A source in the International Development Committee (IDC) of the British Parliament said that its inquiry into the Department for International Development (DFID)'s aid programme for Pakistan will be looking at the general spending of aid in Pakistan but confirmed that pressure on the government had increased to either drop aid to several countries, including Pakistan, or cut it significantly.

The source said the final decision in this regard will be made by the government once the findings of its aid programme investigation are released next year.

"The inquiry will likely be conducted November 2019 into 2020 (March / April) on current plans," a source told GEO News.

According to the GEO News report, UK's aid to Pakistan for 2019/20 is already down to £302 million from £325 million in 2018/19.

Three weeks ago, the International Development Committee (IDC) announced an inquiry into aid for Pakistan to establish whether UK's strategic aims for its Pakistan aid programme were clear and appropriate; UK/Pakistan's relationship was coherent and well-coordinated with the aid programme and its aims and objectives; and to what extent was there effective joined-up strategy and delivery across the country portfolio, and what has the trajectory of programming priorities and impact been over the last 4 years.

Parliamentarians from Labour, Conservatives, Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) and one independent are part of the 11 members committee to include a broad range of opinions.

The official said that it was becoming increasingly difficult for the British government to dedicate aid to growing economies and confirmed "several new issues related to Pakistan" have surfaced putting the whole perspective of aid into doubt. 

The official didn't elaborate what the new issues and concerns are. One of the key focus of this inquiry is to assess whether Pakistan had a commitment to reform and whether it now has access to other resources of money.

On record, a spokesman has said that the IDC has invited written submissions on all aspects of the inquiry, focusing on how effective is UK aid in Pakistan in terms of supporting the poorest, most marginalised and most vulnerable people in that country and whether it's being implemented properly in Pakistan.

The IDC said that Pakistan is a strategic priority for UK aid and DFID's office in Pakistan has the largest budget of any DFID country office with a planned spend of £302 million in 2019/20. For the UK parliamentarians, it makes sense to investigate the aid. IANS