Bad decisions by government – 25: assisting arms traders by lending to oppressive regimes

Two days ago the Financial Times reported that information published by UK Export Finance, formerly known as the Export Credits Guarantee Department, records that Britain lent nearly £1bn to countries including Indonesia, Egypt and Iraq to pay for weapons, some of which have been used against civilians.

UK is still owed £45m for loans originally made to the Argentinian military junta in 1979 to buy weapons later – ironically – used to invade the Falkland Islands.

In her blog, FT political correspondent Kiran Stacey reports that Britain lent certain countries hundreds of millions to buy weapons – and under British rules, a large portion of that had to be to buy British weapons. She added that defence spending accounts for over a quarter of the overall amount of money on the list. Here are the figures:

Debt relief campaigners such as Tim Jones, policy officer at the Jubilee Debt Campaign, have called on the government to cancel any debt originally incurred by such regimes. He said: “The figures reveal a past history of horrendous loans to dictators such as [Egypt’s] General Mubarak, General Suharto [of Indonesia] and Saddam Hussein for military equipment. People in these countries should not have to pay these unjust debts.”

The British government is being called on to conduct a full audit of these debts but as yet UK Export Finance has not made any comment.


Emailed comment:

While people in these countries should not have to pay these unjust debts, neither ought UK taxpayers have to pick up the tab either which is what will surely happen if the debts are cancelled.

A search found that:

  • Cancelling Egypt’s debt cost the UK government the equivalent of 13p per person in the UK per year over 12 years.
  • Even if every single debt in the ECGD was found to be unjust (which is presumably unlikely) and was cancelled, this would only cost £1 per person, per year, over the next 17 years.

Source: http://www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/Vince3720Cable3727s3720response3720to3720our3720campaign+7417.twl

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Posted on November 9, 2012, in Corporate political nexus, Government, Lobbying, Vested interests and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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