SOME of the “world’s poorest people” would suffer from a Yes vote, Westminster’s International Development Secretary has claimed.
Justine Greening said the contribution of Scottish charities, universities and institutions are at the heart of the UK’s international efforts and these have a “far more positive impact” as part of the Union.
However, the Scottish Government accused the UK minister of using the world’s poor as a “political football”. The UK’s aid budget currently stands at £11 billion per year. The SNP has already pledged to spend almost £1bn a year after a vote for independence.
UK aid spending, through the Scottish-based Department for International Development (DfID), last year hit 0.7 per cent gross national income (GNI), making Britain the first in the G8 to reach this key UN target.
The UK has helped 20 million people get access to clean water in the past three years and 22 million children to be immunised against killer diseases, Ms Greening said. A further 6 million youngsters in the developing world have secured a primary school education.
Ms Greening said: “When it comes to the choice that Scotland faces in September, I firmly believe that splitting our hugely successful aid programme into two risks diminishing its impact.
“As the world’s second-biggest aid donor, the UK can use economies of scale to squeeze the maximum value for money out of every penny we spend, ensuring our money goes further in helping the world’s poorest people.” The UK is one of only five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and also has its own place on the board of the World Bank.
This means that the “core values we share across the whole of the UK are reflected at the top of these global institutions,” Ms Greening added.
Scotland’s international development minister Humza Yousaf said: “This is insulting, hypocritical nonsense from Justine Greening, who should apologise for using the poorest in the world as a political football.”
He added: “The UK comes behind many countries of Scotland’s size in the Centre for Development’s Commitment to Development Index.
“Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Luxembourg top the index, with the UK in eighth place after Ireland. That gives the lie to the claims that big is best in this area and shows what an independent Scotland can aspire to.
“Scotland is more than capable of being a global leader in international development.”