Bolivia

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 11 July 2007.

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Photo of Colin Burgon Colin Burgon Labour, Elmet 11:30, 11 July 2007

Which projects his Department is funding in Bolivia.

Photo of Shahid Malik Shahid Malik Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development

The Department for International Development supports initiatives that enable poor people to benefit from markets and improve how Government systems respond to the needs of poor people. We do that through three routes: first, through the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, whose projects include improving social services and helping municipalities to be more responsive to their constituents; secondly, through the European Union, whose projects include supporting indigenous farmers; and thirdly, through UK non-governmental organisations which support grass-roots groups.

Photo of Colin Burgon Colin Burgon Labour, Elmet

I welcome my hon. Friend to his new post. Can he assure me that rumours of the planned closure of the UK's only remaining presence in Bolivia—a regional office—are unfounded? Will he also consider having a direct bilateral programme with Bolivia, free of the shackles that are often imposed by the Inter-American Development Bank?

Photo of Shahid Malik Shahid Malik Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development

Let me first acknowledge my hon. Friend's efforts in building mutually beneficial and strong relationships between the UK and much of Latin America. As a fellow socialist, I am sure that he will be pleased to learn that DFID allocates 90 per cent. of the bilateral programme to low-income countries. As Bolivia is a middle-income country, our bilateral programme with it is relatively small. We believe that we can better support the Government of Bolivia's development efforts by using the expertise of our advisers in the office in Bolivia to influence the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, which together lend about £75 million a year to Bolivia. In respect of the office in Bolivia, I will review our Latin America policy in the autumn in the light of consultations on a new DFID strategy for Latin America, and I will, of course, take my hon. Friend's views into account.