The EU and its member states should not cut overseas development aid because of the financial crisis
EU member states are raising taxes, cutting spending and taking out huge amounts of debt to deal with the financial crisis. But one area which continues to take up large amounts of government and state money is overseas aid. Should this be cut to make the savings necessary in the current economic climate? Or do our obligations to the developing world trump any need to cut back?
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Why does the developing world, particularly Africa, require so much aid? There are many reasons, but one contributing factor is the mess that western countries left them in during the process of decolonisation. We left our empires with little or no governing infrastructure and drew arbitrary borders paying no attention to existing tribal lines. It is hardly surprising that some countries have struggled to develop from this disadvantageous starting point. We have accepted that we have a responsibility to these countries by committing to providing aid, and if we back out on this commitment we not only harm those countries, we loose lose the moral high ground we gained by providing aid in the first place.
And regardless of this they are just more people who need help, to give it the name 'overseas development aid' is to detract from the fact that there's actual people whose lives are affected by this. Why should kindness be limited by borders?
decolonisation was up to sixty years ago, surely any problems with African countries are now their own fault. Financial aid has sunk into a mire of corruption simply financing the dictators that have dominated 'developing' countries and providing very little benefit to the people who really need it. Aid should be limited to crisis food/shelter when their are floods, famine, earthquakes etc.
It is in no one’s best interests to have the developing world suffer. Putting aside the moral obligations we have to help them, it is also practically beneficial to the EU to have a more developed world. Firstly, with well targeted development aid countries in Africa and Asia can grow into new markets for EU goods. Secondly, poverty breeds resentment. If the EU is seen to be the force which took away the support that so many people rely on, our global image will be tarnished and the people who once relied on the aid, in an area which retains a perception of the west as the imperial oppressor, will grow even more resentful.
Financial crisis is not the developing countries fault yet they are caught in it
Developing countries did not start the financial crisis, it was started by the subprime mortgage crisis in the USA, but they are very much caught up by its effects. The initial stock market crashes did not effect these countries much (with a few exceptions)It is the developed world that has been insisting that these countries open up to free trade, inward flows of investment, multinationals, imports and modern banking systems. It is precisely these that are now pulling out or turning sour for the developing world. Multinationals and banks that have invested will withdraw or reduce their spending in the developed world. At the same time many developing countries get alot of their foreign currency from exporting raw materials such as oil and iron ore, for which prices have reduced significantly as demand drops. Moreover many of the poorest countries are largely dependent on aid for their budgets, for example Mozambique’s budget for 2009 is 55% based on foreign aid.[[Mozambique: Budget still dependant on aid, 19th December 2008, http://allafrica.com/stories/200812190717.html%5D%5D Remittances are also a major inflow for developing countries for example with Ghana the World Bank estimates that total recorded flows of remittances reached US$167 billion in 2005, higher than the amount of foreign direct investment.[[Credit Crunch – Investment Inflows and Remittances Could be Hit Hard. http://www.modernghana.com/news2/188436/1/credit-crunch-investment-inflows-and-remittances-c.html%5D%5D This is likely to be reduced as the people sending the remittances from developed countries lose their jobs, which is more likely to happen for the average worker in developed countries as they will often be in the lowest paid jobs with least job security.
Development does not occur in a vacuum. Developing economies are affected by the changing nature of the global economy and it is in their best interests for the global economy to be as strong as possible. A strong economy means that they can develop international trade links, invest, and set up the structures for long term growth. But in order for economic recovery to take place, the developed world must invest as much as possible to keep their own economies functioning. If cutting aid would help them to do this, they should because economic recovery in these countries would benefit the whole world.
cutting aid would make very little difference to developed countries. To take the worst example the US foreign aid budget was a tiny 0.9% of the budget in 2009 compared to 19.6% spent of defence. Within this tiny budget 23% is military aid, with a further 26% on other types of security aid.[[Foreign Aid an introductory overview of U.S. programs and policy, CRS Report for congress, 15th April 2004, pp.8, 18, http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/31987.pdf%5D%5D
Own people first
A government is first and foremost answerable to its own electorate In times of plenty it can use its economic success to help others, but it’s first priority must always be the wellbeing of the people it is elected to serve. Currently, EU governments are having to make budget cuts in areas such as education and public services, which will have a detrimental effect on their people. In this situation it is unacceptable to spend money which could help prevent these cuts on something which will not help the people of that country.
Aid budgets do have a direct impact on donor country. Alot of the aid goes on military assistance or security to keep countries stable, or to further 'our' interests as is the case with US aid to Egypt and Israel. Another large amount of aid is spent on our goods as imports, which brings money back into our economy. And finally money is spent on healthcare within the recipitant countries which helps to prevend diseases from reaching our countries.[[Foreign Aid an introductory overview of U.S. programs and policy, CRS Report for congress, 15th April 2004, http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/31987.pdf%5D%5D
What do you think?