05:49 GMT +310 December 2019
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    Campaigners Slam 'Privatization' of British Foreign Aid Program

    © AFP 2019 / Pius Utomi Ekpei
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    Millions of UK taxpayers' money set aside for foreign aid is being used to rewrite laws in Afghanistan and privatize the energy sector in Nigeria, according to campaigners who say the budget is being used to support the private sector in poor nations.

    Campaign group 'Global Justice Now' (GJN) says that the Department for International Development (DfID) has paid hundreds of millions of pounds to development consultants Adam Smith International (ASI) for a variety of projects being carried out in the developing world.

    GJN cites a series of case studies of ASI projects, including their involvement with the privatization of energy in Nigeria, how they helped to make Afghanistan 'investor friendly' by helping to rewrite a new minerals act for the country that was later passed into law — an act that a local NGO said was "missing the basic protections" over local people's rights and transparency.

    It says ASI also assisted in developing a new mining law and related regulations in Papua New Guinea. Mining has a history of violent conflict in PNG and this new law that ASI were involved in developing has been condemned as being "authoritarian and regressive."

    GJN says ASI has won at least US$647,4 million (£450m)in aid-funded contracts since 2011. In 2014 alone, DfID spent nearly US$130 million (£90m) of its money through the company, more than the entire amount spent on human rights and women's equality organizations.

    Shadow secretary of state for international development, Diane Abbott said:

    "If consultant expertise is really needed — as companies like Adam Smith International claim —  then it's insulting in this day and age for DfID to continue to spend millions on UK-based consultants when there is such a wealth of skills and experience to be found amongst civil society and public services of those countries that aid money is supposed to be going to."

    Stout Defense

    "Our projects are always aimed at helping the poorest, not big businesses. The vast majority of the world's poor are in the informal private sector. To bring people out of poverty one must address the factors that are keeping them poor. We engage with the private sector to reduce poverty by helping create jobs and make markets more accessible. This type of development is widely reflected in donor strategies and recognized in the 8th sustainable development goal," ASI told Sputnik in a statement.

    "Our staff and expert associates are from diverse backgrounds: all committed to poverty alleviation. For example, 84% of our team on our Nigeria tax reform project are Nigerian. Most of our projects partner with local organizations; we help build their capacity and always encourage local ownership. Our different skills are not exclusive, they complement each other.

    "The three projects mentioned in the Global Justice Now report are taken out of context and misreported. The two DFID programs singled out were conceived and started by the last Labour Government and have been continued at the strong request of the Afghan and Nigerian Governments because of their evident success," the statement said.


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