Economy

Bill Gates: Keep spending on foreign aid, it works

Microsoft founder makes comments in London

LONDON (CNNMoney) - Bill Gates has warned the British government that cuts to foreign aid will diminish its influence and make its citizens less safe.

The billionaire philanthropist and founder of Microsoft made the comments at a charity event in London on Wednesday.

"Investing in the health and well-being of people in a poor country pays dividends far beyond that country's borders," he argued. "Foreign aid investments are in fact long-term investments in health and security even of British citizens here at home."

Some British lawmakers are pressuring Prime Minister Theresa May to cut foreign spending as Britain prepares to exit the European Union. On Wednesday, May declined to confirm that she will continue to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid beyond a general election in June.

Gates delivered a similar message to the Trump administration after it proposed a dramatic reduction in U.S. spending on foreign aid in its budget.

Gates met with President Trump in March. Before the White House meeting, he published a blog post entitled "How foreign aid helps Americans."

He argued that that spending money on other countries makes Americans safe, by stabilizing volatile and vulnerable parts of the world and combating the outbreaks of epidemics.

He criticized world leaders for using fear and uncertainty sparked by terror attacks, war in Syria and the refugee crisis, in order cut foreign aid.

Gates and his wife Melinda have committed to give more than half of their $84 billion fortune away during their lifetimes. Much of his charitable giving takes place through The Gates Foundation, which fights poverty and infectious diseases include HIV, polio and malaria.

Gates and investing powerhouse Warren Buffett launched the Giving Pledge in 2010 to encourage the world's billionaires to boost their philanthropic donations.

"It concerns me that some world leaders are interpreting recent events as reasons to turn inward, instead of seeing them for what they are: problems that although they are difficult and will take time, can be solved if we invest in the long-term solutions that are necessary," Gates said on Wednesday.


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