Billionaires Gates & Soros reportedly step in to cover fraction of foreign aid cut by UK, but some question their intentions


12-07-21 05:07:00,

In an apparent attempt to shame Boris Johnson’s government for its decision to cut Britain’s foreign aid, the who’s who of the world of billionaire philanthropy are said to have pledged to cover a small part of the diverted money.

A group of international charities this week pledged to invest £93.5 million ($130m) into causes that will be missing money from the UK this year. The temporary funding will go to poor countries including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. It will be spent on programs including ones that treat neglected diseases and offer contraception.

The move, first reported by the Times on Sunday, is meant to shame the British government over the decision it took last year to reduce foreign aid. Previously, London allocated around 0.7% of the UK Gross National Income (GNI) to foreign assistance programs, but the Johnson cabinet cut this to 0.5%.

The 0.7% GNI benchmark was adopted as a target in the 1970s, when it was recommended by the UN, and made into law under the David Cameron government in 2015. Johnson’s reduction is estimated to amount to £4 billion ($5.56b) in 2021.

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The aid cut, which was announced last November, was opposed by some members of Conservative Party, including former prime minister Theresa May who refused to make such cuts during her tenure. Then-foreign office minister Baroness Sugg resigned in protest when the measure was announced.

While many critics argue that denying struggling people funding for lifesaving assistance is contrary to Britain’s moral values, some politicians framed their opposition as a geopolitical calculation.

“When Britain withdraws, others step in. By cutting our aid, we have given states such as China and Russia an opportunity to expand their influence at Britain’s expense,” argued Tom Tugendhat, the Tory MP who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee. “In fragile and conflict-affected states, UK cuts to humanitarian crises give space for our rivals to convince our friends we don’t matter.”

There has been a push in Parliament to put the reduction of aid to a vote, which the Johnson cabinet has so far successfully resisted.

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