I’ve just noticed the Opinion Poll that SCIAF (Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund) released on Wednesday 21st February. It’s a proper poll with a grown up sample rather than a self-selecting webby thingy.
I’m not going through all the results cos they’re on their website www.sciaf.org.uk, but I do think that the idea of Scotland running its own aid budget it fantastic. Currently we shovel £377 million a year into Hilary Benn’s agenda. But what could we do with that cash. Ok Hilary at Frontline Scotland will tell you it would all be a disaster. But surely the reason the Exec made a few mistakes in Malawi is because they lacked the experience, the infrastructure and the networks/contacts to deliver. If you had £377 million, you could routinely expect to pay over £20 million in administration and be in line with London’s expense ratios. With £20 million in hand you could afford to hire some seriously clever people. Patricia Ferguson is currently the minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport and – er – International Development. How does that work? The impossibility of anyone to deliver effectively on this portfolio is self-evident pretty damn obvious.
With a properly financed department, Scotland could make up it’s own mind about our aid priorities. I don’t go with the Exec’s exclusive focus on Malawi, but they only had £4 million p.a. to spend. With £377 million in the kitty, one can presume they’d want to take a more global view. Who knows what we’d want to do with that, we could certainly freshen up the agenda to represent a truly post-imperial bilateral aid policy (India is still the biggest single donee from the UK budget) and ensure that all tied aid deals are well and truly expunged from the agenda.
Isn’t it time Scotland spent it’s own money on International Aid and Development agenda.