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Afghanistan Development Strategy

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 2 December 2009

5. What arrangements are in place to ensure that aid provided by his Department for Afghanistan is utilised in support of the priorities of the Afghanistan national development strategy. (303269)

The four-year DFID Afghanistan country plan that we announced in April this year was subject to full consultation with the Government of Afghanistan. DFID is committed to spending at least 50 per cent. of its funds through Afghan Government systems. That ensures that our money is spent in a way that is in line with the priorities set out in the Afghan national development strategy.

Given the level of corruption that has been exposed in Afghanistan, how can we be sure that the United Kingdom taxpayers’ money is being spent properly?

Corruption is indeed a serious problem, but money from my Department is channelled through the Afghan Government and is protected against misuse. Most of the resources that we give the Government are provided on a reimbursement basis, which means that funds are transferred to them only when it has been demonstrated that actual expenditure has taken place—that teachers’ salaries have been paid, for instance—that the expenditure conforms to strict eligibility criteria, and that all the transactions are subject to full international audit.

Can the Minister explain how the new United Kingdom aid logo will be deployed in Afghanistan, not least to ensure that the people of Afghanistan understand the development commitment of the British Government and the British taxpayer to the whole country, not just the areas in which we are engaging in military operations?

We are currently looking into how the UK aid logo will be distributed in countries across the world. However, there is real interest in using the logo in Afghanistan to demonstrate our commitment to and support for the people of the country, so that they see us as allies and not as conquerors.