International development

Spent half the day in a seminar about International Development. One of the key challenges is to improve cross-departmental working in government on development issues. The recent debate in Parliament about the export of a (very expensive) air traffic control system to Tanzania clearly indicated the pitfalls of one part of Government working in total contradiction to another part.

So whilst one part was busy with the supply of an over-sophisticated, over-priced military air traffic radar system to one of the very poorest countries in the world at a cost to it of £28 million for an air force of about 10 planes (although estimates varied up to 19), another part was busy saying, “this is a poor country that needs our financial help”. Left hand says: “here’s some money” and right hand says “here’s a big bill”. What we need is rather more coherence in policy making.

There’s a good summary of the current state of play in this scandal on the Guardian’s website.