How can a nation ring fence foreign aid but slash defence? We reveal how your money is misspent… and even makes poverty worse
Last updated at 1:22 AM on 18th September 2010
As an idea, it is beyond reproach. An end to child labour, education for all and free school books for every Indian primary school pupil.
It is called Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan — Education For All — and the logo for the project is a jaunty cartoon of two tiny Indian children sitting astride a giant pencil, happily learning to read.
The reality, however, leaves a lot to be desired. This Indian development programme has been tragically pillaged by officials, who have robbed impoverished children of their hopes.
Waste: British aid for Indian Schools was siphoned off by corrupt officials
Auditors have discovered that around �70 million of aid money has gone missing from the gigantic scheme, which was designed to fund schools for India’s 350 million children.
A report by India’s Auditor General, seen by the Daily Mail, reveals widespread ‘diversions and mis-utilisations’, showing that almost �14 million has been spent on items that have nothing to do with schools. Instead, corrupt officials bought cars and other luxuries. In one instance, aid money was used to buy four luxury beds, at a cost of �17,754.
In the state of Andhra Pradesh, money was wasted on 7,531 colour televisions — despite the fact that many of the classrooms have no electricity. Computers were bought and now lie idle in stockrooms.
Tens of thousands of pounds were allocated to 2,369 schools in the district of Jharkhand that do not even exist, and �150,000 was paid into a mystery bank account with no reason given.
In Muzaffarpur, Bihar state, it was found that only �400,000 out of an allocated �1.1 million had gone to schools. One woman involved in the widespread fraud has been accused of siphoning off up to �6 million from the funds, reportedly even using �44,000 of it to make a movie directed by her son.
Money was also used by officials to finance religious festivities. Auditors checking individual state accounts found sums of up to �4.8 million missing from the books — although an investigation into the precise figures involved is ongoing.
And who is paying for the Education For All project? You are, of course — and it is your money that has gone missing.
Surprised? Don’t be — this extraordinarily ill-advised million-pound expenditure is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Britain’s multi-billion-pound overseas aid bill.
Indeed, our country’s vast aid budget has just been ring-fenced by the Conservative Government, despite the swingeing cuts facing ordinary Britons.