RSS (17 June 2020) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the Department for International Development (DFID) would now be merged with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Speaking in the weekly ‘question hour’ in parliament on Tuesday, PM Johnson said DFID would be merged with the Foreign Office. According to him, DFID and the FCO will merge, uniting development and diplomacy in one new department that brings together Britain’s international effort.
“Work will begin immediately on the merger. The new department – the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – will be established in early September and will be led by the Foreign Secretary,” he said. The merger is an opportunity for the UK to have even greater impact and influence on the world stage as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic and prepare to hold the G7 presidency and host COP26 next year.
UK aid will be given new prominence within our ambitious international policy. The Foreign Secretary will be empowered to make decisions on aid spending in line with the UK’s priorities overseas, harnessing the skills, expertise and evidence that have earned our reputation as a leader in the international development community. The UK is the only G7 country to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas development and the Government remains committed to this target, which is enshrined in law.
Influential leader of the ruling party and former Prime Minister David Cameroon and the leader of the main opposition party Gordon Brown both have criticised this step of the government. Cameroon said this step will make the foreign countries’ perspective towards Britain less respectful. DFID was censured by the British society two years back citing corruption was smelt in the amount provided to various countries through it.
DFID has been regularly supporting developing countries like Nepal every year. It had provided more than its regular financial assistance to Nepal in the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake and in the present COVID-19 pandemic. Several economists had also argued against keeping DFID as a separate agency over some controversial incidents before this as well. DFID has completed 23 years.