British lawmakers press Andrew Mitchell on Global Fund contribution hike

A session at the U.K. House of Commons. The House of Commons' International Development Comittee calls on the U.K. Department for International Development to increase contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Photo by: Catherine Bebbington / Parliamentary Copyright

The most influential body of U.K. lawmakers focused on international development believes the upcoming G-20 summit in Mexico, slated in June, is an opportune time for the United Kingdom to announce fresh contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

In a report released today, May 22, the U.K. House of Commons’ International Development Committee urged the U.K. Department for International Development to deliver on a much-delayed pledge to increase contributions to the Global Fund, citing the impressive progress that the financing organization has made in reforming its operations following allegations of funding misuse by some of its grant implementers last year.

The report was based on evidence and statements presented during an April 17, 2012, hearing by various parties, including Mitchell, representatives from nongovernmental organizations and Gabriel Jaramillo, whose young stint as Global Fund general manager has earned raves from the committee, the U.K. international development secretary and NGOs.

A month ago, Mitchell told the committee that DfID will increase funding to the Global Fund because it had “an excellent track record for delivering results” and represented good value for money. That hearing came on the heels of DfID’s multilateral aid review. Since then, however, no follow-through on the commitment came from DfID.

Mitchell told the committee April 17 the new funds will be announced “as soon as we feel we have confidence that the money will be well spent and that the British taxpayer can be assured that for every pound of their hard-earned money they get 100 percent of delivery on the ground.” This, he said, requires completion of the fund’s reform process and conclusion of a mini-multilateral aid review process for the fund, which he expects to happen in early 2013.

Mitchell, according to the committee, is open to making an earlier announcement. He did not provide a specific figure, but said U.K. contribution will increase “very substantially” starting next year through 2015 by “up to double” the current level of 384 million pounds ($475 million).

The committee expressed concern that the delay would push back the gains the Global Fund has achieved and may put the lives of people in developing countries at risk. The United Kingdom presides over the Global Fund board, and the committee believes it holds sway over other donors’ decision to commit money and ease the financing crisis at the Global Fund, which has led to the cancellation of its round 11 grants.

As such, the committee recommended that DfID prioritize the assessment of Global Fund ahead of and separately from the broader update of its multilateral review. It also called for the speedy appointment of a permanent executive director for the fund to build back donors’ confidence in the financing agency.

Development and advocacy group Oxfam applauded the report and hoped DfID will listen to the committee’s recommendations.

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.