- He has even suggested to countries like Brazil and Ghana not to accept Britain’s aid
- The calls come as Development Secretary Justine Greening headed to Luxembourg to urge EU to stop giving aid
PUBLISHED: 17:44 EST, 26 October 2012 | UPDATED: 17:44 EST, 26 October 2012
Former United Nations chief Kofi Annan has backed calls for Britain and the EU to stop giving millions of pounds in aid to wealthy countries.
He said booming nations such as China, Brazil and India should wean themselves off development funding so it could be targeted at ‘weaker’ parts of the world instead.
His comments come after International Development Secretary Justine Greening called for the European Union to stop giving aid to relatively rich nations.
She travelled to Luxembourg last week to say it is wrong that the EU’s aid fund, to which the UK contributes more than £1billion a year, sends money to relatively rich countries such as Barbados, Iceland, China and Brazil.
Britain refuses to fund such countries out of its own aid budget. However, the UK is still sending around £280million a year to India – even though the country can afford its own space programme and its president, Pranab Mukherjee, said in February: ‘We do not require the aid. It is a peanut in our total development expenditure.’
Conservative backbenchers want to see the Coalition drop its pledge to increase spending on foreign aid year-on-year, while cutting funding in every other department apart from the NHS.
In 2014, taxpayers will be forking out £12.6billion a year on foreign aid – more than the £12.1billion it will be spending on the police.
Mr Annan, a Ghanaian who was the UN secretary general from 1997 to 2006, said not all the countries who received aid from British taxpayers needed it.
‘The emerging markets and the countries that are doing well should wean themselves off aid,’ he said.
‘Countries like Brazil, China, India, Ghana, Guatemala and Honduras; some of these countries can fend for themselves.
‘In fact I have had the chance to suggest to some of them that they should not accept Britain’s aid willingly. They need to say “We are full enough”, so that there will be more money available for the really poor and weaker.’
A sixth of the money spent by the Department for International Development goes to the EU’s aid programme. Half of this £10billion budget is spent on middle and higher income countries, even though many say they are too wealthy to merit support.
Brussels has committed £30million to numerous aid projects in China, which has almost 150 billionaires, and more than £10million to Brazil, which will spend £9billion on its 2016 Olympics and whose GDP overtook Britain’s last year.
But Mr Annan, who quit his job as Syrian peace envoy in August, also warned that governments rarely deliver all the aid they have promised.
Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival earlier this month, he added: ‘The G8 and the G20 make lots of noise, lots of publicity about aid which is not in the end delivered.’
In recent weeks, it has emerged that British taxpayers’ money has been splashed out on a string of projects in wealthy countries, while domestic cuts continue apace.
Among the projects being paid for by the EU are a scheme promoting tourism in an Icelandic national park and a pro-EU television series in Turkey.
And £1.8million has been handed to the Caribbean island of Barbados to build a hotel and leisure complex where 200 young people will be trained each year in ‘hospitality management’.
Some £800,000 out of the EU aid budget is going on a water park being built in Morocco by the French owners of Center Parcs.
At the Tory conference earlier this month, Miss Greening said: ‘I want to be clear that whether we give a pound directly, or through another organisation, I always expect value for money on behalf of the taxpayer.
‘I want to bring that same focus on value for money in the UK to the EU in Brussels. I don’t think it’s right that the EU still gives money to those countries higher up the income scale, when we’ve taken the decision to target the poorest.’
The Department for International Development has spent £500million on so-called ‘poverty barons’, private consultants running aid programmes abroad.
Meanwhile, millions in aid was last month pledged to help expand an oil plant in India part-owned by the UK’s richest man, billionaire steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.