BLAIR FACES DILEMMA

The FINANCIAL TIMES, under this heading, gave some prominence in mid-August to a proposal that the UK government is considering issuing a licence under which the British company BAE Systems would export to Tanzania a state-of-the-art $40 million (¬£28m) air traffic control system. The World Bank and IMF had criticised the scheme as too expensive (they said it should cost about $10 million) and because it had an unnecessary military capability -hence the need for a licence. It would cost about half the annual income received by Tanzania in debt relief. Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry was said to favour the scheme but other ministries opposed it so that a decision might have to be taken by the Prime Minister. Tanzania was reported to be determined to go ahead with the scheme and to have made a down payment of $5 million. Oxfam had opposed the scheme because of what it described as a ‘threat to Tanzania’s sustainable development’. Admitting that, if the British Government refused to give a licence, it could stand accused of acting as a colonial power, the Financial Times insisted that the British Government should stick by its proclaimed principles and should support sustainable development in Tanzania. (Thank you Jill Bowden and Roger Carter for sending this important and topical information ¬≠Editor).

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