World

Trump's budget plan to cut foreign aid and green programmes

Defence spending up at the expense of other programmes in President Trump's proposed budget

CHICAGO: President Donald Trump will propose drastic cuts to America's foreign aid and environmental programmes in a security-heavy first budget blueprint.

In a plan designed to translate bold campaign promises into dollar and cent commitments, the Republican leader will propose a 28 per cent cut in State Department funding. That could be a harbinger of steep reductions in foreign aid and funding to United Nations agencies, with knock-on effects around the world.

The Pentagon will be the major winner, with a nearly 10 per cent boost, shovelling more cash towards a defence budget already greater than that of the next seven nations combined.

The cost to healthcare companies for US regulatory review of their products, including drugs and medical devices, would more than double under the Trump administration's proposed 2018 budget.

The budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning on Oct 1 is a first shot in a battle with Congress, which controls the government's purse strings, and is controlled by the Republicans.

The Agency for International Development (USAID) budgets pay for everything from maintaining the US' diplomatic corps to fighting poverty, promoting human rights and improving health in other nations.

The White House is proposing a combined US$25.6 billion (S$35.9 billion) budget for the State Department and USAID, a 28 per cent reduction from current spending, according to White House documents.

"It is time to prioritise the security and wellbeing of Americans, and to ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share," Mr Trump said in a letter introducing his budget, which calls for large increases in US defence spending.

Mr Trump's budget director, Mr Mick Mulvaney, told reporters: "This is a 'hard power' budget. It is not a 'soft power' budget", referring to the president's desire to prioritise military power over the influence that can flow from development aid.

The budget also wants US$12 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding for extraordinary costs in war zones like Syria and Afghanistan. It has proposed eliminating an international food aid programme, halting funding for clean water initiatives in rural areas and reducing county-level staff for a 21 per cent drop in discretionary spending at the Agriculture Department. - REUTERS, AFP

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