Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Misuse of Public Funding?

From the Globalisation Institute Bulletin (free by email from Globalisation Institute [bulletin@globalisationinstitute.org]) the piece below is extracted:

There have been increasing murmurings about the activities of the “Trade Policy Unit” inside Christian Aid (a respectable authority on practical policies for development). The Trade Policy Unit appears to be highly politicised, which is OK in itself, but these activists reveal their politics under the cover of Christian Aid to pursue policies that make poverty worse, and more certain:

“Christian trade”

It's not been a good month for Christian Aid's Trade Policy Unit (CA-TPU) which, using DFID funding, had been screaming about "the slavery of free trade". First David Cameron and then David Davis came out and said Christian Aid's Trade Policy Unit is wrong, then the Lib Dem's Shadow Chancellor Vincent Cable was critical... and Prime Minister Tony Blair keeps saying that free trade is the answer. Martin Wolf in the Financial Times described CA-TPU's position as

Paul Staines, writing on the GI website,
says: "In truth it seems to us as interested observers that there are two Christian Aids. There is the real Christian Aid that raises money for humanitarian causes, famine, flood and earthquakes, the Christian Aid of church and school fundraising rounds that we all know and which is widely supported. And there is the other Christian Aid found in its highly-politicised Trade Policy Unit (CA-TPU)."

‘DIFD’ is the Department for International Development, a government department funded by British taxpayers, which replaced the Overseas Development Agency (ODA). In the 1980s I was a member (later Chairman) of The UK Standing Commission for Social Sciences, which came within the ODA to represent Britain on UNESCO, and I am familiar with how government departments behave when dealing with controversial issues.

Using public funds to subsidise and fund political activists is at best ‘irregular’ and Christian Aid (a popular charity) should audit what its small Trade Policy Unit is doing and saying, and take steps to curb irregular use of public funds (I am being diplomatic here).

Meanwhile, sign up to the Globalisation Institute for regular receipt of its Bulletins.


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