Approximately £1billion worth of funds that were earmarked for foreign aid will not be going out immediately. According to government spokespersons, the brakes have been applied on these funds to ensure that the tax payer money is utilized in the right way, efficiently and effectively.
National Security Adviser halts spending
The actual action has been taken by PM Theresa May's National Security Adviser, Mark Sedwill, who put a stop to all spending from the pro-democracy Empowerment Fund which came into being earlier this year. The fund was set up by Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary. About £13.3billion worth of aid has gone into creating the fund and £700 million of it was meant to be used to have a means of control over Vladimir Putin without resorting to aggression. The idea was to help political supporters in the Baltic states.
Capability review initiated
Mr. Sedwill has also initiated what is being termed as a capability review which will closely examine the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, which pours in over a billion pounds a year on vulnerable states. The Prosperity Fund is also under scrutiny by Sedwill and reports have been demanded on what has been happening with the £1.3 billion worth of funds.
Focus on value for money
Mr. Sedwill has made it abundantly clear that his priority is to ensure that all funds given out as aid offer the best value for money for the British taxpayers. The stringent checks come as severe criticism from various quarters has been pouring in about irresponsible spending on countries with sound economies or poor public welfare policies. The move by Sedwill is being seen as a bid to make spending more transparent and efficient and to showcase that taxpayer money is and will be used in a completely responsible manner.
What is significant is that the review has now put a stop to the Empowerment Fund aid disbursement. Spending has not yet started out of this fund and it will not until the review is done and over with. The whole issue assumes great importance as Ms. Theresa May continues to face severe criticism not just from her political opponents but also her own party for her exaggerated commitment to spending. The critics feel that the spending is not justified mainly because the funds aren't going to valid causes at all.