UK’s DfID looks to encourage investment in developing country infrastructure

29 Aug 19

A UK government scheme to “turbo charge” private investment in developing countries’ infrastructure projects has been criticised as making an “opportunity” out of human suffering.

New international development secretary Alok Sharma announced yesterday that he will set up a commission – a group of ‘infrastructure leaders’ from the UK and elsewhere – to advise him on increasing Britain’s role in financing and developing work overseas.

The commission’s focus “will be to help make investment in infrastructure in developing countries more attractive to businesses and investors”, according to the Department for International Development.

But shadow international development secretary Dan Carden said the commission’s aims were contrary to the principles of aid: “independence, neutrality and impartiality”.

He said: “The new secretary of state in charge of this country’s aid budget has clearly failed to understand the purpose of humanitarian aid.

“Human suffering is not an opportunity for making business deals.”

Referring to United Nations figures, Sharma said $2.5trn more each year is needed to end poverty in developing countries, and the UK “must mobilise private sector investment to overcome this challenge”.

He said: “Alongside the lifesaving work of UK aid, we need to boost infrastructure projects that form the backbone of economic growth.

“This commission will aim to turbo-charge investment in green, sustainable infrastructure, leading to more jobs, better access to basic services and opportunities for businesses, creating the UK’s future trading partners.

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