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July 18, 2019

DFID saga may affect UK’s Rs99b aid to Pakistan

Top Story

July 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) has utilised grant assistance of over 1.5 billion pounds for both budgetary support and for undertaking social sector projects in Pakistan during last one and half decade period.

There could be many reasons for recent controversy after publishing report into Daily Mail but one aspect was continuous demand from political quarters within UK that the taxpayers’ money utilised for third world countries was ‘wasteful expenditures’ so it should be stopped.

“The DFID’s existing portfolio for various kinds of all programmes in Pakistan stands at 700 million pounds,” official sources confirmed to The News here on Wednesday and added that the aspect of stooping demand of aid should not be ignored as it was campaign run by many political leaders to win the support of the domestic masses living in the UK.

The recent allegation has raised question over the audit and scrutiny process of both Pakistan and DFID sides and both will have to prove that no wrong was committed in funding of UK’s taxpayers’ money.

After eruption of recent controversy that might provide some stuff for political point scoring to the ruling party in Pakistan but it might possess threat for causing loss to Islamabad’s quest for making efforts to convince DFID to sign new three year programme having financing of 500 million pounds (Rs99 billion) for various ongoing and new programmes in Pakistan. Now the DFID and Pakistan will have to display that the funding had never misused in Pakistan and it helped the poor masses to bring sigh of relief in their daily life.

The DFID used to provide 50 million pounds per annum assistance to Pakistan till 2004-5 but they jacked up their grant assistance up to 500 million pounds in 2005 for three year programme. The DFID largely provided assistance to Pakistan for undertaking education sector projects especially in Punjab under World Bank programme, few projects for ERRA, couple of projects for road infrastructure along with ADB, providing assistance to BISP and other initiatives.

Now the budgetary support is directly provided to the government and made part of national exchequer. The second component of DFID assistance is provided for undertaking development projects in Pakistan. The DFID had rejected the story published in Daily Mail arguing that “the UK’s financial support to ERRA [Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority] over this period was for payment by results – which means we only gave money once the agreed work, which was primarily focused on building schools, was completed, and the work audited and verified.”

Pakistan has been currently the second largest recipient of grant aid from DFID and lingering controversy over alleged embezzlement may result into surfacing difficulties for getting future funding.

“Yes we are planning to make fresh request for getting 500 million pounds for new programme as existing programme is nearing of its completion” said one top official on the condition of anonymity.

The Department for International Development (DFID) is known for UK’s global efforts to end extreme poverty, deliver the Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) and tackle a wide range of global development challenges.

The UK’s focus and international leadership on economic development is a vital part of Global Britain - harnessing the potential of new trade relationships, creating jobs and channeling investment to the world’s poorest countries.

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