The surprising revelations emerged on the day Boris Johnson flew to New Delhi for talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with the subject of his country’s close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin likely to be high on the agenda.
Pakistan has also done little to distance itself from Russia either, and Imran Khan, who has since been ousted as Pakistan’s PM, was even pictured shaking hands with Putin in Moscow on February 24, the day the latter ordered his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Additionally, the figures underline the fact that large quantities of cash continue to flood out of the UK despite last year’s reduction of the proportion of GDP spent on overseas aid from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent – cutting the figure from £14.5billion in 2020 to £11.1billion last year.
In order to undertake its analysis, the TaxPayer’s Alliance (TPA) looked at the “schemes” section of a publicly available Government document entitled Government Grants Statistics 2020 to 2021.
In doing so, it excluded schemes which involved multiple countries, even where this included India and Pakistan, due to difficulties in disaggregating the figures.
This revealed that a total of £112,090,669.20 in taxpayers’ money was spent on 31 projects in India and Pakistan during that period. The equivalent figure for the previous year was £130,104,588.05.
Notable schemes include £11,848,484.83 to promote condoms and other forms of contraception among Pakistanis, and £619,867 to expand renewable energy in India – a country which has its own space programme, including two Moon missions.
India’s GDP was expected to be almost £2.2trillion by the end of last year, according to the Trading Economics website, representing 2.32 percent of the global economy. Pakistan’s GDP was expected to be almost £215billion. Both countries possess nuclear weapons.
John O’Connell, the chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Taxpayers will be rightly asking who in government decided to prioritise condoms for Pakistanis and renewable energy for Indians over tax cuts for working people and investment in public services.
“This will only be more insulting given India and Pakistan’s flip-flopping over the issue of support for Ukraine – a key diplomatic priority for the UK government.”
He added: “For as long as India and Pakistan fail to support the UK on the international stage, they shouldn’t see a penny more of taxpayers’ cash.”
Andrew Rosindell, the Tory MP for Romford in Essex, below, was similarly unimpressed.
He said: “With the soaring cost of living, I think there is zero support in the country for continuing to spend this level of taxpayers’ money on international aid, much of which does not seem to go to the places it should be going to, as this research shows.
“It is absolutely appalling that we are sending foreign aid to countries such as Pakistan and India, countries that abstained on the vote for Britain to take the right course of action by sanctioning Russia for their illegal invasion of Ukraine. “
Pakistan had not stood with Britain on basic human rights issues such as the one currently faced in Ukraine, and the UK should not be sending aid abroad to any nations refusing to stand up to tyranny and aggression, he stressed.
Mr Rosindell added: “We have a cost of living crisis and British people are struggling to heat their homes and buy food, we should not be paying for programmes such as contraception provision in the name of foreign aid in India and Pakistan, costing the British taxpayer millions of pounds each year.
“Those politicians actively advocating increased foreign aid are completely out of touch with what the British people are thinking as these schemes are far from what the British taxpayer expects from their hard earned cash.”
The government had been “absolutely right” to cut foreign aid spending last year and Mr Rosindell said he advocated much tighter controls on foreign aid spending, as well as more due diligence in respect of where taxpayers’ money was going.
He stressed: “We spend more on international aid than most western countries yet we have huge amounts of national debt caused by borrowing for the lockdown.
“We need to balance our books, having arbitrary targets makes no sense and it makes even less sense to be spending our constituents’ tax receipts on some of the aid programmes outlined by the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s research.“
On April 9, Russia cancelled pandemic restrictions on flights to 52 “friendly” countries – with both India and Pakistan included on the list.
Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted: “India has not yet come out as strongly as some of us would like to see about Ukraine.”
Mr Johnson is expected to raise the issue – but Downing Street emphasised he would not seek to “lecture” Mr Modi.
Instead, No 10 said Mr Johnson will promise to work with India and other countries in a similar position to reduce their dependence on Russian fossil fuels and defence equipment.
Last month, Britain cancelled Pakistan National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf’s visit to London in the wake of Mr Khan’s meeting with Putin.
The FCDO has been contacted for comment.