Thursday, 18 October 1984
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. P. Barry: As is stated in the national economic plan, Building on Reality, the Government are committed to the established UN target of 0.7 per  cent of GNP for official development assistance (ODA). While the Government are committed to achieving this target within an appropriate time-frame and as economic circumstances permit, and had set themselves the ambitious objective of progressing towards it at an annual rate of 0.05 per cent of GNP, actual growth in Irish ODA since 1974 has averaged about 0.015 per cent of GNP per annum. Despite the present climate of exceptional budgetary restraint, the Government will, during the period of the plan, maintain the rate of increase in ODA already achieved. This will involve a 47 per cent increase in total ODA from almost £34 million to £50 million. The possibility of implementing the higher rate of increase previously envisaged will be reviewed in the light of future economic circumstances.
Mr. P. Barry: Yes. We had originally envisaged an increase of 0.05 per cent and we have had to cut that back to 0.015 per cent in the light of the economic situation prevailing. An increase of 47 per cent over the period of the plan is significant. I spent much of last week arguing for the OACP countries to be given something even slightly above the rate of inflation for the past five years but have not yet achieved that. The very fact  that we are committing ourselves in advance to an increase of 47 per cent over a three year period is very significant.
Mr. N. Andrews: In view of the fact that 50 million Africans are threatened with starvation immediately, does the Minister agree with the Government's position in cutting back aid to these countries, particularly in view of our own Great Hunger? What position did the Minister take at the ACP meeting in Brussels last week? Did he agree to cutbacks in EC aid to the developing world?
Mr. P. Barry: The only figure to which we are committed at the moment is the increase of 0.015 per cent per annum over the period of the plan. This will mean an increase of 47 per cent. If circumstances permit that can be topped up.
Mr. N. Andrews: That is a disgraceful response to the unprecedented hunger in the world. Does the Minister intend doing anything about distributing the food mountains available throughout Europe to the African countries and others affected by hunger?
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