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Could US budget cuts mean slashing aid to Africa?

With the Obama administration facing Republican pressure to cut the budget, the government's $50 billion overseas programs could be on the table.

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When it comes to structural adjustment, the US government generally plays the role of the donor nation, setting conditions on debtor nations in order to get their fiscal houses in order.

This year, the US government, having reached its self-imposed limit for how much money it can borrow, is scrambling to pay its bills and keep its creditors at bay.

With President Obama's administration and the Republican-controlled Congress debating how to cut back government spending, everything is on the table, including America’s $50 billion overseas programs, including foreign aid.

Republicans rejected a measure this week to raise the US government’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, the knives will almost certainly come out. The implications for African aid recipients – many of whom rely heavily on US foreign development aid – could be dramatic.

But a number of high-level US State Department and aid officials, on a recent visit to South Africa, said that foreign aid programs such as former President George Bush’s ongoing President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) enjoy bipartisan support. And the US government is both changing the way it gives out foreign aid, empowering local governments to take on their own development, and remaining engaged with a developing world that increasingly has choices of whom it does business with.

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