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Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the (a) social and (b) economic impact of the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on (i) Malawi and (ii) other developing countries with a large tobacco sector in their economy; and if he will make a statement. [216734]

Hilary Benn: DFID has made no formal assessment of the likely impact of the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in Malawi or other countries. However, the WHO envisages that reducing tobacco consumption will take several decades. In the more immediate term, it is likely that national and regional policy factors such as domestic trade reform in China; energy, transport and land tenure crises in Zimbabwe; and the prospects of losing market share to expanding producers like Brazil are more pressing constraints for poor tobacco-dependent economies.

We are very sensitive to the serious adverse consequences of tobacco on public health, in particular the growing burden of tobacco-related disease in developing countries, and we recognise the importance of the FCTC. DFID funds are not used identifiably to support the tobacco sector, but it is consistent with our Millennium Development Goal mandate to provide advice to tobacco-dependent poor countries on constraints to their economic development and the livelihoods of their citizens. This may include measures to assist farmers dependent on tobacco crops to diversify into alternative activities.
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Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment has been made of birth control policies in Uganda. [216914]

Hilary Benn: Uganda's Poverty Eradication Action Plan emphasises the need to improve the ability of individuals to plan the size of their families as a way of contributing to the reduction of poverty. The Government's family planning policy seeks to increase access to high quality, affordable family planning services for those that require contraceptives and to promote integrated family planning information and services. These objectives are set out in the Ministry of Health's draft Health Sector Strategic Plan for 2005–10. Uganda faces a number of challenges in meeting these goals, including social misconceptions about family planning and a shortage of skilled staff and family planning commodities at the district level.

DFID welcomes Uganda's prioritisation of family planning in its efforts to reduce poverty, and its inclusion in the Health Sector Strategic Plan. The latter will help ensure family planning is not an afterthought, but an integral part of the evolution of the health sector. We strongly support the focus on improving services at the district level. DFID also welcomes the Ugandan Government's development of a comprehensive advocacy strategy tackling a range of issues including education for young people in school and public leadership.

The UK supports these efforts in a number of ways: through Poverty Reduction Budget Support and project assistance.

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what safeguards are in place to ensure that UK development aid donated to Uganda is spent (a) appropriately and (b) where designated; and what assurance the Ugandan Government has provided on this. [217077]

Hilary Benn: The UK currently provides 60 per cent. of its assistance as Poverty Reduction Budget Support, as a direct contribution to the Government of Uganda's budget.

Uganda has a well-developed and consultative budgetary process which allows donors to ensure that Uganda meets its commitment to prioritise poverty reduction. It provides an opportunity to endorse the budget at the annual Public Expenditure Review. Allocations to the Government's Poverty Action Fund", for example, have risen from less than 20 per cent. of the budget in 1997 to 38 per cent. in 2004.

Budget execution is generally good and is closely monitored by Government and donors, including the International Financial Institutions. DFID's Poverty Reduction Budget Support, and that of other partners such as the World Bank, is conditional on endorsement of the budget and its subsequent execution. This ensures that allocations to the Poverty Action Fund are protected. Detailed half and full year budget execution reports are posted on the internet, and the Government continues to produce audited accounts within the statutory period of nine months. Uganda performs well
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in international comparative assessments of public financial management, including the World Bank/IMF expenditure tracking assessment conducted in 2004.

In addition to DFID's contribution to Uganda's budget, the UK provides a significant amount of project assistance, including support for improving public financial management. These projects are managed in accordance with DFID procedures and are subject to regular reviews to ensure impact and financial propriety. The National Audit Office was satisfied with DFID systems in Uganda when it audited our programme in December 2004.

UN Millennium Project

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the report of the United Nations Millennium Project, with particular reference to its call for results-based management of international aid. [215753]

Hilary Benn: The Government strongly supports the analysis in the report, which shows the Millennium Development Goals are off-track and demonstrates that aid works. We welcome the focus on Africa, and we agree that more countries can meet more of the 2015 targets if we act boldly now. Donors must commit more resources through traditional aid channels, enhanced debt relief, and the International Finance Facility. This will enable developing countries to develop and implement more ambitious poverty reduction strategies. On results-based management, we believe that aid should be provided to support country-led programmes with clear development outcomes and benchmarks.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Zambia concerning (a) good governance and (b) tackling corruption. [215767]

Hilary Benn: I visited Zambia on 8 February, and met President Levy Mwanawasa, Finance Minister Ng'andu Magande, and Commerce Minister Dipak Patel. We discussed good governance, and the political and economic challenges facing Zambia.

In my meeting with President Mwanawasa I highlighted the importance of his Government's continued fight against corruption. Cases have been launched against members of the previous administration, including former President Chiluba. Assets have been recovered or frozen in Zambia and abroad. Measures to prevent future corruption are being put in place across Government by the Anti-Corruption Commission, which is receiving technical and financial assistance from DFID.

In my meeting with the Finance Minister I congratulated him on recent economic and fiscal policies that are improving growth and the investment climate. Domestic borrowing, interest rates and inflation are all falling. We also discussed the Government's recent improvements in public expenditure management and financial accountability (PEMFA). A PEMFA reform programme is now in place, supported by a group of donors, including DFID. The UK will provide £15 million to this programme over the next five years.
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Good economic governance will help ensure that public spending is more focused on poverty reduction priorities. Minister Magande emphasised that Zambia's 2005 budget is allocating more resources to health, education and other priority programmes.

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid projects Her Majesty's Government are considering assisting in Zambia; and if he will make a statement. [216086]

Hilary Benn: UK assistance to Zambia presently totals £30 million per year on projects in various areas such as: health, education, HIV/AIDS, public sector reforms, and private sector growth.

In recognition of Zambia's recent progress, I announced during my visit to Zambia on 8 February that DFID will provide up to £60 million over the next three years (2005–07) in the form of Poverty Reduction Budget Support. This will mean a rising UK aid programme, from £30 million per year, to £40 million per year by 2006–07.

In addition, the UK Government will cancel all of Zambia's remaining bilateral debt to the UK if and when HIPC Completion Point is reached. Completion Point is likely in April 2005. The value of this debt cancellation is expected to be £128 million. The UK Government will also then pay 10 per cent. of the debt service owed by Zambia on outstanding World Bank and African Development Bank loans until 2015 in order to release additional funds to support the Government's poverty reduction programme. The savings from this initiative are expected to be £850,000 in 2005, rising to £2.5 million in 2015.

Potential projects being considered at the moment include:

The high commission's small grants scheme funds an average of 15 to 20 community and NGO projects every year, up to a total of £160,000. For 2005–06 applications will be accepted from April to June.

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