Aid reforms push for private sector subsidies – what about the commons


Development Aid policy is under drastic change. Governments are now aiming to use aid in forms of private sector subsidies. This raises an ethical question; should taxpayers money go to funding private businesses? Where do we draw the line?

According to a leaked official document seen by the Guardian, proposed reforms to official aid would allow a wide variety of “private-sector instruments” to be used as vehicles for development, meaning that aid could be used to invest in, or give loans to, private companies, or to underwrite those companies’ activities through guarantees (Guardian).

One side of the debate – the neoliberal perspective – believes that investment in the private sector will bring economic growth thus creating prosperity for the people, creating jobs which then provides financing of social programs.  

And the other side – aid is meant for expanding social services like healthcare and education through sustainable measures and should be reaching the poorest people.

What seems to be most problematic is – middle-income countries received the largest share of finance, primarily in the energy, industry and banking sectors (Guardian). Because aid agencies are looking for returns and “smart” investments they are focused on middle income countries rather than helping the poorest who need the aid most.

This leaves me wondering what about the commons. Why are aid agencies not looking for alternatives and identifying ways in which communities can be prosperous and self sufficient in other forms. We continue to see mass amounts of money going into the hands of the wealthy and is that really going to help eliminate poverty?




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