UK threatens Commonwealth funds over procurement concerns

UK threatens Commonwealth funds over procurement concerns
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Britain has threatened to withhold part of its funding for the organisation that runs the Commonwealth amid concerns about how it awards contracts, the Foreign Office said on Wednesday. Australia and New Zealand have also reportedly issued similar warnings to the London-based secretariat, an administrative body which supports the […]


Britain has threatened to withhold part of its funding for the organisation that runs the Commonwealth amid concerns about how it awards contracts, the Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

Australia and New Zealand have also reportedly issued similar warnings to the London-based secretariat, an administrative body which supports the 54 Commonwealth member countries.

It comes after an internal audit reportedly criticised Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland for awarding a lucrative consultancy contract to a company run by a friend.

The BBC said auditors also found the secretariat waived procurement rules on at least 50 occasions over three years.

A Foreign Office spokesman told AFP it had imposed conditions on a voluntary contribution due later this year, which was last year worth £4.7 million (5.6 million euros, $6.1 million).

“We are committed to an effective Commonwealth that delivers for its member states, so we have set a number of conditions on UK funding to the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation for this financial year,” it said in a statement.

“These include conditions relating to ensuring that the secretariat’s procurement policy and its implementation are in line with international best practice.”

This does not affect automatic contributions made by Britain and other member states.

The secretariat did not respond to a request by AFP for comment.

But a spokesperson was quoted as saying by the BBC: “The Commonwealth Secretariat does not comment on private exchanges with its member countries.

“The secretariat complies fully with the audit process and implements recommendations accordingly.”

Commonwealth nations are currently discussing Scotland’s future as secretary general, with her first term due to expire next month.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has declined to publicly support her for a second term, saying only that it will be for the Commonwealth’s heads of government to decide.

Leaders are due to meet at a summit hosted by Rwanda in June.


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