Foreign Aid To Countries Plagued By Corruption 'Should Be Conditional' MPs Warn

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Andrew Mitchell, right, Britain's international development secretary, talks to a flood survivor in Nowshera, Pakistan on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010.
Andrew Mitchell, right, Britain's international development secretary, talks to a flood survivor in Nowshera, Pakistan on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010.

Aid to fragile but corrupt countries should be conditional, a committee of MPs has said, amid concerns that taxpayers' money is being used to prop-up corrupt regimes.

The International Development Committee said countries that flout agreements or refuse to become accountable should have their aid withdrawn. The warning comes as the Department for International Development (DFiD) prepare to spend 30% of their budget on projects in fragile states.

Committee head Malcom Bruce told Huff Post UK that while the department were not "failing" they should set out "clearer expectations" about what they expect from governments of fragile states. He called for DFiD to "sharpen up their criteria, be more vigilant and be more explicit."

"We accept we're operating in fragile states and very often they're fragile because of bad governments. What we're saying is that there is a limit where the scale of what you do maybe has to be reviewed."

DFiD will give £790m over to parliament of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which transparency international ranks in the top 20 most corrupt countries on the planet. However the committee set out clear concerns about alleged secret mining deals.

The report recommended DFiD clearly set out what the UK expected from the country, and withdraw aid if this is not delivered.

The international development select committee highlighted that many of the countries funded by DFiD are affected by fraud and corruption and have ranked poorly on international Corruption Index measurements.

The report said that DFiD should be "straightforward" that there were risks in giving money to less stable states.

Responding to the report international development secretary Andrew Mitchell said: "We make absolutely clear to countries that transparency and good governance are vital, and we are prepared to withhold funding through governments when our standards are not met, as we have done in Malawi."

The Department for International Development has previously suggested Britain could cut aid to the governments of countries that persecute homosexuals.

Max Lawson, Head of Public Policy and Advocacy at Oxfam said while transparency was important, we should not "turn our backs" on poor people: "The Select Committee is right to raise the need to improve transparency and accountability of British government aid to fragile states - this is important for both the tax payer and the people living in those fragile states. Aid to fragile states will always face challenges. Some 40 per cent of world's poorest people live in these conflict ravaged and fragile states. It would be wrong of us to turn our backs on them."

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