NEW International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt must prioritise the funding of free education and healthcare in poorer countries if she is serious about improving lives, trade justice activists Global Justice Now (GJN) told the Morning Star today.
GJN campaigner Aisha Dodwell said that Ms Mordaunt was maintaining the status quo of her disgraced predecessor Priti Patel, who quit after being exposed for holding unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials aimed at diverting aid cash to the Israeli army.
It follows Ms Mordaunt’s threat in the Telegraph today that the Department for International Development (DfID) will reduce foreign aid to countries that fail to use the money to “help their citizens.”
“It will no longer be enough for a project simply to be achieving good things,” she claimed.
“I want the governments of developing countries to step up and take responsibility for investing in their own people, in healthcare or education, for example.”
But the telling point Ms Mordaunt made was that she wanted to make sure that aid spending was in Britain’s national interest.
Ms Dodwell said: “Penny Mordaunt is following in the footsteps of her predecessor Priti Patel in setting out a vision for UK aid that is primarily focused on securing the UK’s national interests. This is wrong.
“UK aid should only be used to end poverty — not as a sweetener for post-Brexit trade deals, nor as a slush fund for Foreign Office security interests.
“If our new Development Secretary is serious about supporting health and education systems around the world then she should fund the development of publicly run schools and hospitals.
“DfID could provide both financial and technical support to share expertise from the NHS and state school systems we have here in the UK. Instead, DFID has spent years encouraging the privatisation of education and health across the developing world.
“Penny Mordaunt says she wants governments of developing countries to invest in their own public services.
“In which case she should be prioritising shutting down the UK’s tax havens and ensuring a fair global tax regime that means developing countries’ governments receive the money they need.”
In November MPs on the international development committee said there was a lack of evidence to support spending aid on private education providers such as Bridge International Academies, widely criticised for its horrendous paid-for shack schools staffed by unqualified, script-reading teachers in Africa and India.
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