UK sends message on need for open government

The British government says it will be looking for transparency in the way St Helena spends millions of pounds it receives in aid funding.

Its latest update on British overseas territories says: “More than ever, in the current financial climate, we have a duty to show that we are achieving value for money in everything we do.

“Results, transparency and accountability will be our watchwords and we are determined to get value for money for every hard-earned taxpayer pound spent on development.”

The UK’s 2012 White Paper said that if overseas territories like St Helena wanted to remain linked to Britain, they must meet British standards of government and openness.

That was not reinforced by Andrew Mitchell MP – the International Development Secretary at the time – when he was asked later whether Britain would act to end government secrecy on St Helena – especially behind-closed-door meetings of the executive council.

He said transparency made for better government – but it was for the island’s councillors to introduce it.

In its June 2013 update on the overseas territories, the British government says it will ensure its own actions are transparent.

It says: “DfID regards transparency as fundamental to improving its accountability to both the UK and OTs citizens.

“We will publish clear, concise information about our programmes, providing the opportunity for those affected by our projects to provide feedback.”

It does not say what it will do to encourage similar transparency in St Helena and other territories – or how it can be open with British taxpayers and OT citizens if the territories are not transparent.

SEE ALSO: St Helena transparency archive

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