Gates hits out at Berlusconi's Italy

Bill Gates might well have joined Twitter last week but he’s capable of writing thousands of words as well as 140 characters and that’s what he’s just done in his 14 page second annual letter.

The letter is posted on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website and because Warren Buffett is a co-trustee, he’s been chatting him up about the state of the world economy and that.

Gates said that while the acute financial crisis is over, the economy is still weak and there will be “lingering unemployment” and big government debts.

That, he says, may well have an effect on aid budgets offered to the developing world by developed countries. Bill  Gates courtesy Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

He’s particularly scathing about Sylvio Berlusconi and Italy. “Italy was at the low end of European givers even before the Berlusconi government came in and cut the aid by over half, making them uniquely stingy among European donors.”

He’s met Berlusconi and tried to make the case for more support, but Sylvio probably wasn’t listening because he had other things on his mind no doubt somewhat related to girls and stuff.

Other countries, too, aren’t being that generous – he says that Russia, China and the rich oil countries give modestly.

Gates bases his assessment of aid as a percentage of gross domestic product and  judging by those critera, the USA comes out below Italy at 0.19 percent. However, the US is the biggest giver in absolute terms.

Gates is also worried that governments are increasing spending to reduce the effects of global warming will also have an impact on aid.

Most of the letter is concerned with projects that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is undertaking. Read it all, if you will, here.