Scottish Government Covid aid for developing countries ‘to reach £5m’

Jenny Gilruth told MSPs the money would go towards helping developing countries tackle coronavirus.

Scottish Government Covid aid for developing countries ‘to reach £5m’ iStock

The Scottish Government will have contributed £5m by the end of this year to help developing countries tackle coronavirus, a minister has said.

Jenny Gilruth told MSPs the money would go towards projects including PPE distribution, vaccine rollout and online learning.

During a statement in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, the International Development Minister announced an extra £1.5m to help the response in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia.

She also said a Global South Panel made up of experts from recipient countries would be set up to advise and challenge the Government on where money should be spent.

Ms Gilruth attacked the UK Government’s decision to cut its international development spending.

She said: “It was a deplorable decision that the United Kingdom Government took during the worst excesses of the pandemic last year to cut international development spending.

“Whilst the recent shift indicated by (Chancellor) Rishi Sunak to restore the 0.7% ODA (official development assistance) commitment was welcome, it won’t yet be realised until at least 2024 or 2025.”

She said this would lead to a reduction in UK Government aid spending for Malawi of 59%, with Rwanda and Zambia seeing cuts of 42% and 49% respectively.

Conservative MSP Sharon Dowie asked the minister about the Scottish Government’s aid to Afghanistan, saying a recent £250,000 package from the humanitarian emergency fund had not yet been spent.

Ms Dowie said: “While I’m aware of the difficulties of operating in Afghanistan, the situation is critical.

“Can I ask what work has been done to try and get the £250,000 to Afghanistan?”

Ms Gilruth said there had been “a number of difficulties with getting funding into Afghanistan safely” but a decision would be made later this week.