x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UK reassures India aid packages will not be cut

Britain has spent £1 billion (Dh5.82bn) on aid programmes in India over the past five years, with another £600 million committed until 2015.

LONDON // Britain has reassured India it had no immediate plans to end its aid handouts, despite reports that it is about to pull the plug because of India's rising wealth and a series of perceived snubs.

Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, told the Sunday Times newspaper that Britain was now "walking the last mile" with India, cheering critics who have called for the aid package to be axed.

But the Department for International Development later insisted the current programme would run its course.

Britain has spent £1 billion (Dh5.82bn) on aid programmes in India over the past five years, with another £600 million committed until 2015.

David Cameron, the UK prime minister, has faced calls to cut the handouts in light of India's economic boom and after it appeared to spurn trade deals with Britain.

Mr Mitchell refused to commit to any renewal of the package during the interview with the newspaper.

"We are walking the last mile with them," Mr Mitchell said.

"I completely understand why people question the aid programme to India, and we questioned it ourselves.

"That's why we reviewed every aspect of it when we came into government [May 2010] and changed it fundamentally. The fact is we didn't mess around. ... We won't be there forever."