Global Investing

BRICS: future aid superpowers?

Britain’s aid programme for India hit the headlines this year, when New Delhi, much to the fury of the Daily Mail, described Britain’s £200 million annual aid to it as peanuts. Whether it makes sense to send money to a fast-growing emerging power that spends billions of dollars on arms is up for debate but few know that India has been boosting its own aid programme for other poor nations.  A report released today by NGO Global Health Strategies Initiatives (GHSi) finds that India’s foreign assistance grew 10.8 percent annually between 2005 and 2010.

The actual sums flowing from India are,  to use its own phrase, peanuts. The country provided $680 million in 2010. Compare that to the $3.2 billion annual contribution even from crisis-hit Italy. The difference is that Indian donations have risen from $443 million in 2005, while Italy’s have fallen 10 percent in this period, GHSi found. Indian aid has grown in fact at a rate 10 times that of the United States. Add to that Indian pharma companies’ contribution – the source of 60- 80 percent of the vaccines procured by United Nations agencies.

Other members of the BRICS group of developing countries are also stepping up overseas assistance, with a special focus on healthcare, the report said. BRICS leaders meet this week to ink a deal on setting up a BRICS development bank.

Here are the numbers for the other BRICS (according to GHSi report entitled ”How the BRICS are reshaping global health and development”)

*Brazil is estimated to have provided upto $1.2 billion, mostly to Latin America and Portuguese-speaking African nations such as  Mozambique. That’s an annual increase of 20 percent since 2005

Give and take in Switzerland

Switzerland prides itself for being a reasonably generous country. Each year it gives 1.2 billion Swiss francs, or about 0.4 percent of its gross domestic product, in aid to poorer countries, a higher portion of aid than larger states such as Britain.

But what you get with one hand ….
 
According to estimates by the Berne Declaration, a Swiss non-profit organisation, the poorest nations’ wealthiest have hidden between about 360 billion and 1.5 trillion Swiss francs in Switzerland, away from the taxman. This means that each year, between 5.4 billion and 22 billion Swiss francs are lost to tax authorities in developing countries, equivalent to at least five times what Switzerland gives to those countries in aid.

“Tax dodgers in developed and developing countries deprive governments of revenues,” OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said last month, adding that if this tax money was collected billions of dollars would available for financing development. (Lisa Jucca)