By Joel Gulhane
An investigation by British newspapers The Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph has alleged aid funded by the British taxpayer, is helping to create “poverty barons.” Something The Telegraph defines as consultants who have become millionaires through international aid programs.
The British Department for International Development (DfID) funds British consultants, many of whom, The Telegraph believes, are “on six- or even seven- figure personal incomes paid in large by the aid budget.” Reports of the salaries of these consultants has put the British government under pressure to reform aid spending.
The Sunday Telegraph revealed its findings last week, causing the development secretary, Justine Greening, to order an internal review. The review was then postponed as the investigation would be carried out by consultancy firms, suggesting conflict of interest.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that at an event held for aid consultants last Thursday, Graham Hand, the chairman of the meeting declared, “There’s lots of money! We’ve all got money!” British diplomats and officials based in various countries were in attendance.
According to The Telegraph, over four years the Caribbean region received £75 million in aid despite most nations in the region being classified as middle-income. Haiti, the poorest nation in the region, hardly received any of the allocated aid. When The Telegraph reporter told Mr. Howell that the Caribbean wasn’t a poor region he replied “there are always elements of poverty in any country.”
The DFID budget in the Caribbean is spent on climate change and improving governance, and these areas require the largest amount of consultants.
The Telegraph said that there was a chance for networking at which point the consultants swapped lifestyle stories, one example give was “’the $2000-a-day ‘expert’ who demanded (successfully) that a new Mercedes be shipped to East Timor for him.”
The Telegraph accused British consultants of using “an old-style handout approach” which reduces the capacity for making longer lasting and genuine change. It believes “that aid is increasingly serving Western and corporate interests, rather than the interests of the developing world.”
These revelations have come at a time of recession in Britain and of major cuts to government services.