WHITEHALL mandarins were handed almost £800,000 in bonuses for dolling out £13 billion of taxpayers’ money in “overseas aid”. Among the revelations this year were that
the department headed by Priti Patel had given cash to an Ethiopian version of the Spice Girls.It was also sinking British taxpayers’ money into luxury gyms and hotels in Africa,
private hospitals in India, and paying for abortions in third world countries.So called aid had also been diverted to tax havens via its private equity partner the Commonwealth
Development Corporation.Anger over the pay awards also comes amid growing concern over the annual bill paid on international development by the UK which is set at an enormous 0.7 per cent of GDP. Under current levels this means that £13 billion – even higher than the UK’s net contribution to the EU – is sunk into countries with human rights issues and corrupt undemocratic regimes. The revelations about the bonuses has come at a time when Mrs Patel, the international development secretary, has vowed to crackdown on departmental waste and is reviewing how its money is spent.Pressure is also mounting for the Dfid budget to be slashed or abolished altogether to use the money to reward hard working front line workers such as police, soldiers, fire fighters, nurses and teachers who have had to endure a pay cap for seven years.Former Tory minister Robert Halfon said: “People recognise that many public sector workers have had to struggle over the past few years. “What I’m suggesting is that we look at some of the overseas aid budget, which is going to be over £13billion in the coming year.”He went on: “We face a particular difficulty in our country where many public sector workers have had to struggle, particularly those on lower pay.”So I think temporarily, while the economy remains difficult, while we get down the deficit, we need to look at sacred cows like the overseas aid budget and use that to help the lowest-paid public sector workers.” Alternatively, the £13 billion spent around the worlds would also easily help plug the financial black hole in the NHS budget.Senior Tory MP David Davies said: “I think these bonuses would be a huge concern for many people including the minister responsible Priti Patel.“She has talked about the need to make sure money is properly spent.” However, the department insisted that the bonus scheme was a normal part of the Whitehall pay structure.A Dfid spokesman said: “All government departments operate performance-related pay – this is a normal part of ensuring that civil servants are incentivised to perform well and deliver value for the taxpayer.“Policies on providing performance-related pay and the budget for these payments are set by the Cabinet Office and not Dfid.”.