Trump's foreign aid cuts may impact Bangladesh

Brajesh Upadhyay, Washington
Published : 00:20, Aug 20, 2019 | Updated : 00:21, Aug 20, 2019

REUTERS/File PhotoThe Trump administration is expected to announce a cut of billions of dollars in foreign aid this week, including the USAID budget that may also have some impact on Bangladesh.
Both Republicans and Democrats have denounced the move, but the President told reporters on Sunday (Aug 18) that he plans to go forward with the cuts.
“We give billions and billions of dollars to countries that don’t even like us. We have been cutting that a lot,” said Mr Trump while also indicating that he is willing to talk to lawmakers on the issue.
While the President’s statement was more in reference to Pakistan and Palestinian aid which has been drastically cut, he has long advocated cuts in some foreign aid programs saying the money is being spent wastefully or inefficiently.
The White House is yet to make an official announcement about the programs on the chopping block, a few senior officials have mentioned three programs to US media outlets—promoting crop diversity in Bangladesh, purchasing solar panels in Central Asia, and footing the bill for border protection in Central and South Asia.
An official at the Bangladesh embassy told Bangla Tribune they are aware of the likely announcement of the cuts but are yet to be informed of the specific projects that could be “squeezed or sunk altogether”.
"We are expecting some impact," he said.
Reports suggest that Congress has been informed of cuts as high as $4.3 billion, including 2.3 billion from USAID and $2 billion from the State Department.
This money has already been been appropriated by Congress for the ongoing budget but hasn’t been allocated to specific projects, also referred to as “unobligated”. The current fiscal budget expires on September 30 and if the Congress, which is currently on vacation, doesn’t obligate the money before that, it can’t be spent and will be returned to the US treasury.
A few foreign policy experts have said the foreign aid cuts could impose hardships on some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned the Trump administration Sunday that the move is “illegal” and the expected cuts in already appropriated foreign aid “violates the good faith of our budget negotiations”.
“We are insisting that the administration spend the appropriated foreign assistance funds and are working with GAO (Government Accountability Office) to make sure the law is followed,” said Mrs Pelosi.
Two prominent Republicans, Senator Lindsay Graham and Representative Hal Rogers, too, have opposed the cuts. They wrote a letter to the President urging him to stop the nearly $4.3 billion proposed cuts to the State Department and USAID.