Jonathan Isaby is Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance
The TaxPayers’ Alliance notched up a significant victory for British taxpayers earlier this year when we persuaded the Government to withdraw support for any further World Bank loans to Argentina.
If you recall, we had established that those representing the British Government at the World Bank and associated institutions were not actively opposing loans to Argentina, despite the country’s repeated attacks on Britain and British interests. Even though it is a middle income nation and member of the G20, Argentina had outstanding World Bank loans worth $16.2 billion – and based on the UK shareholdings in the relevant institutions, British taxpayers were therefore underwriting these loans to the tune of over £225 million.
We found it unacceptable that our representatives were not taking a principled stand against further loans. Aside from the country’s continued hostility towards Britain and British sovereignty over the Falklands, it was (and still is) refusing to pay existing debts owed to other foreign governments and private creditors, and has refused to honour court judgments from around the world, requiring that rules of law and contract must be upheld.
So we pursued a sustained campaign involving new research, a viral video, an e-petition, and a cross-party parliamentary motion, resulting in the following statement from Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for International Development, in February:
“I have instructed the UK’s representatives at the Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank to vote against all new proposals for financial support to the Government of the Republic of Argentina”.
It is somewhat alarming to discover, therefore, that the World Bank is looking at lending another $3 billion to Argentina next month, according to recent reports in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere.
Earlier in the month, Crawley MP Henry Smith raised this issue of potential new loans with Justine Greening in a parliamentary question and she replied:
“I have not changed my position on this.”
This is reassuring to hear and it’s good to see Henry Smith keeping an eye on the Government’s line on this matter.
But there will doubtless be pressure in the coming weeks on her and the UK representatives at the World Bank to change course. So if her Department is to stick to working “in our national interests”, as she recently insisted, the UK position must remain resolutely opposed to any further such loans to Argentina.