|Independence aid jobs 'at risk' claim|
There are 550 permanent and 50 contract staff working in East Kilbride for the DFID, over all the department has a budget of around £7 billion and a total workforce of 2700.
Casting about on the internet for info on how those clever Norwegians do things, they have The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (or NORAD) with a budget of some £27 billion Kroner (approx £2.6 billion.) Its a subsidiary of Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs which employs in total 2400 people across 110 foreign missions the aforementioned NORAD plus two other subsidiaries, FK Norway (a peace corps set up) and Norfund (a private equity company funded by the Norwegian state.)
NORAD has approximately 230 employees, a good deal less than the 600 working in East Kilbride, but it doesn't manage all of Norway's international aid program - much of which is integrated into other areas of Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For comparison, the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office employs around 13,000 people and has a budget of £1.5 billion, its Department for International Development employs 2700 and has a budget of (approx) £7 billion. Norway manages to do both with a staff of 2400 and a budget of £3.4 billion (approx.)*
I know we like to talk about Norway and use it as an example to which we could aspire, when you compare it to how the UK government conducts its foreign affairs and international development, its actually a wee bit embarrassing.
Where the UK can be quite cynical about where it sends aid and the reasons for doing so, Norway is a lot more altruistic. I'm not saying they don't gain because they do, but so does the country to which the aid is being sent, its mutual. As an example here are two links both to the Huffington Post website: The first dated 02/01/2012 then the second dated 11/05/2012. Call me Cindy McCynical but it seems a bit odd that Britain would cancel aid worth around a quarter of a billion smacks to India months after they (India) snubbed a BAE-led consortium building Typhoons in favour of the French aircraft manufacturers Dassault building Rafales.
But I digress.
Its not so much about how much or on what you spend an international aid budget, its about whether Scotland would be able to. According to Justine Greening and no doubt many others with a vested interested in the retention of the union, it goes with out saying - Scotland probably couldn't.
Justine also suggested to Westminster's International Development Committee that disasters like Typhoon Haiyan were better dealt with by a United Kingdom - managing to employ a natural disaster to defend the status quo - which sort of figures when you think about it.
|"We heard you were hit by a typhoon."|
|"Eh, would you like to buy some Typhoons?"|
She warned the UK aid budget would be slashed by £900 million if Scotland left, but neglected to point out that if an SNP-led independent Scottish government was in power after 2016, Humza Yousaf (SNP External Affairs Minister) on its behalf pledged to exceed the 0.7% of GDP most European countries give by pledging 1% of Scotland's GDP for international aid. All of which means Scotland's aid budget would be around £1.5 billion - replacing the £900 million Justine said would be 'slashed' from the rUK's aid budget.
I know some unionists have problems identifying higher figures from lower ones but, £1.5 billion is definitely more than £900 million. Bearing that in mind, Justine Greening is - as you would probably imagine anyway - talking mince.
Finally, if you don't agree with Scotland having such a generous aid budget then don't vote for the SNP, wait and see what the other parties are offering. Do remember though, if you are contemplating a 'no' vote in September next year, nothing will change one way or the other because Scottish votes in Westminster elections rarely count.
These days it doesn't really matter what Westminster party you vote for, in terms of policy, there's barely a gnat's chuff-width between them. If you want your vote to count, it'll only happen with a fully autonomous Scottish Parliament.
As you well know.
* If - like me - you were wondering how Norway managed to do more with a lot less and still be ahead of the UK in giving international aid. In cash terms the UK does spend more, but only because our economy is five times bigger than Norway's. Aid is worked out as a percentage of GDP, not as a mean sum of money. Ergo, Norway spends a higher percentage of its GDP (nominal)** (GDP $485,416 25th largest) than does the UK (GDP $2,429,184 7th largest.)
** Not to be confused with GDP per capita (meaning cash per person) where Norway enjoys being in 4th position and the UK languishes down in the doldrums in 21st place - (World Bank figures.) Scotland's place? According to OECD figures - 6th largest (rUK 16th.)