Infrastructure schemes in China and developing countries in Southeast Asia face upheavals as Britain and the World Bank review aid commitments. Next month, the British Government will publish a white paper setting out the future direction of the country's aid spending, which last year exceeded $32 billion. Lobby groups have received mixed signals as to what the review, the most wide-ranging reassessment for 18 years, will recommend. One construction industry group feels there will be a dramatic shift away from tied aid, which links cash support to contracts won by British firms. The Export Group for the Constructional Industries (EGCI), which represents all the leading British contractors working abroad, feels there might even be an attempt to scrap linked aid altogether. Alick Goldsmith, director of the EGCI, said: 'Clare Short, the international development minister, has never made any secret of her dislike for tied aid.' EGCI said the move would rob firms of about $1 billion worth of concessional finance a year and jeopardise new projects. A large slice of this cash supports water, highway and sewerage projects in China and Southeast Asia. About $690 million is being used to help finance the $1.3 billion Jiangyin bridge, across the Yangtze river, near Jiangsu. Similar concessionary finance was used to support a $5.3 billion sewerage project in Malaysia. 'The best we can hope for is a phased reduction rather than abolition overnight,' Mr Goldsmith said. The ECGI has spent the past few weeks lobbying the Department for International Development (DFID) in an effort to prevent the cuts being made. Another construction group is more bullish and believes the size of the tied aid budget could actually increase. Colin Adams, director of the British Consultants Bureau (BCB), said: 'Clare Short gave us the reassuring message that the government would not unilaterally move against tied aid. They said there was no point Britain untying aid when nobody has done so.' Following talks with officials earlier this month, the BCB, which represents engineering, architectural and surveying firms working aboard, said the government could pump more money into tied aid. Speaking from London, a DFID spokeswoman confirmed that the white paper was due out in October and would set out the parameters of Britain's aid commitments including tied aid. She said it was too early to speculate what recommendations might be made. Meanwhile, officials at the World Bank are pushing for a shift in bank policy to enable loans and other financial support to be given for water and sewerage projects. Bank lending for these types of scheme has virtually evaporated because tremendous growth in privately financed water and waste water schemes in China, the Philippines and Malaysia has usurped the bank's traditional role. 'There is no new [bank] money, because the private sector is taking over,' said Tony Pellegrini, the bank's director of transportation, water and urban development. Officials believe people living in smaller cities and districts are being ignored, because leading infrastructure companies find it unprofitable to provide basic services to cities of less than one million peole. Tony Eckford, managing director of Britain's Anglian Water, which is bidding for a $774 million water treatment plant in Changsha, said foreign companies were not interested in developing plants in cities of one million or less. Mr Pellegrini is urging the bank to develop a joint private/public-sector enterprise that would subsidy private concessions in towns with small populations.