UN target should be pushed back to 2015


OVERSEAS AID:THE GOVERNMENT should abandon its aim of meeting the UN target of allocating 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) to overseas aid by 2012 and extend the timeframe by three years, according to the expenditure review group.

It also suggests that Ireland should end its participation in the UN-led mission in Chad next March.

Despite a number of cuts to the Irish Aid budget in the past year, the Government has insisted that it remains committed to achieving the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of GNP on overseas development aid (ODA) by 2012.

However, the group’s report recommends that the 0.7 per cent target be pushed back by three years, to 2015.

“In the current unprecedented period of economic recession, there is a compelling case for suspending the achievement of this target until the worst of the recession has abated and a more realistic timeframe can be assessed,” it states.

Ireland’s total ODA contribution stands at €696 million, or 0.48 per cent of GNP. Some €571 million of that, or 0.39 per cent of GNP, comes from the Department of Foreign Affairs with the remainder provided from the EU budget and other departments.

The review group also recommends that, in light of the worsening fiscal crisis, Irish Aid spending should remain at its current share of 0.39 per cent of GNP in 2010.

On Ireland’s participation in overseas missions, the group noted that while this helps to maintain the readiness of the Defence Forces, most of these missions – other than Kosovo and Chad – “tend to involve small numbers of personnel, but entail significant commitments in terms of resources”.

Commenting after the publication of the report, Trócaire urged the Government not to reduce further the aid budget.

“More cuts will have a minimal impact on Ireland’s financial stability but will have a devastating impact on the world’s poor,” said Eamonn Meehan, the agency’s deputy director.