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Development Aid Minister Gunilla Carlsson (left) and ST President Britta Lejon, Photo: Henrik Montgomery & Fredrik Sandberg/Scanpix

Development aid as venture capital criticised

"Private companies can't be as transparent as government agencies"
5:06 min

Sweden is one of the few rich countries living up to the United Nations recommendation for development assistance. But, when Gunilla Carlsson took over as minister for development cooperation seven years ago, she promised to change the system, cutting out aid to countries that are undemocratic or with rampant corruption, and with more focus on helping the poorest. Today she tells the newspaper Dagens Nyheter she still isn’t satisfied, that there’s too much inertia in the system, and not enough change.

Yet a recent report criticised one area where Gunilla Carlsson has been able to make a change, focusing more Swedish aid on investments in private companies.

ST, the union representing civil servants and others working for state agencies, universities, and companies, has released a report strongly criticizing the diversion of development assistance to the private sector. The report takes up several concerns, that investing in companies doesn't meet the goal of combating poverty, that there's very little transparency in the process, and it is very difficult to measure or evaluate if anything has been accomplished.

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