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Africa: Overseas Aid

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 22 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what anti-corruption safeguards are in place to ensure that aid given to African countries is used for its intended purpose. (128870)

Corruption is a serious problem in much of Africa and the poor suffer most. When deciding how to provide assistance to developing country partners, DFID carefully assesses their commitment to improving public financial management, promoting good governance and transparency, and fighting corruption.

In most countries, DFID delivers aid in a range of ways and the choice of aid instruments depends on the circumstances of each country. DFID takes strong measures to protect our aid programmes from corruption. Strong procurement and management systems have been established to prevent corruption in projects and programmes directly administered by DFID. These systems are subject to independent and systematic audit and evaluation that provide high levels of assurance on the adequacy of systems of control and the processes for safeguarding assets. The external audit for DFID projects is carried out by the UK National Audit Office.

When funds are granted directly to a partner government as Poverty Reduction Budget Support (PRBS), direct responsibility for the use and auditing of those funds is passed to that government. Before a decision is made to provide budget support, DFID carries out a detailed Fiduciary Risk Assessment. This includes a specific assessment of the risk of corruption and enables us to decide whether the circumstances are appropriate for providing PRBS. DFID considers the risk of corruption in the formal public financial management systems, taking into account how these systems operate in practice and the wider governance and institutional context of the country.

Where significant corruption or other fiduciary risks are identified, we consider whether the partner government has a credible programme of reform and whether any additional measures are needed to mitigate the risk. We may require additional measures such as independent audits, Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys or the use of donor procurement systems rather than government ones. Progress is monitored. PRBS is usually accompanied by technical assistance to help the government strengthen its systems.