Thursday, 12 February 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
9. Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the savings he proposes in the context of the cut in the overseas development aid budget; the details of the savings it is proposed to make; the programmes to be scaled back, cut or discontinued; and the areas within his Department’s spend these are located. [5193/09]
24. Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the reduction of €95 million in the overseas aid budget will result in a change in the commitment to spend 0.7% of GNP on overseas development aid by 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5231/09]
41. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the consultation process he has had with authorities in recipient countries regarding the implementation of cuts in the overseas aid budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5229/09]
44. Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the amount of the reduction of €95 million in the overseas aid budget which will be taken from funds channelled through Irish and other development non-governmental organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5230/09]
68. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when the cuts resulting from the reduction of €95 million in the overseas aid budget will be initiated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5337/09]
Last week the Government took the difficult decision to reduce the total Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget for 2009 from €891 million to €796 million — a saving of €95 million. This decision was taken as part of the determined effort to curb public expenditure in order to establish a platform for the resumption of strong economic growth, which will lead to further expansion of the Government’s development programme in years to come.
On current GNP projections for 2009, this revised allocation means Ireland will spend approximately 0.54% of its GNP on ODA. It is also likely that with this level of funding Ireland will maintain its position as the sixth most generous donor per capita in the world. This is a significant achievement in the current economic circumstances.
The Government continues to work towards reaching a target of 0.7% of GNP on ODA by 2012, although it must be pointed out the overall EU target is to reach this UN target by 2015. Currently Ireland remains significantly closer to achieving the target than most of the other EU Member States, with only a handful of other EU countries ahead of Ireland.
The Government’s priority will now be to ensure that the budget provided for ODA is implemented effectively and in line with our priorities as outlined in the White Paper on Irish Aid. All aspects of the ODA programme will continue to be rigorously examined to ensure effectiveness and impact in the fight against poverty and hunger. A number of adjustments will need to be made in relation to programme and project time-lines. These adjustments will be made in a way which minimises and mitigates impact on those most in need. We will communicate with prospective recipients following completion of this review.
I am determined that Ireland’s aid programme will continue to focus on assistance to the poorest countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, and to place the needs of the most vulnerable people in these countries at the heart of the programme. Poverty reduction is at the core of our aid programme. We will continue to invest in basic services, including primary education and primary health. In response to the report of the Government’s Hunger Task Force, we will continue our leading role internationally in the fight against the scourge of hunger. Sectors such as good governance, HIV and AIDS, gender equality and economic development will also remain important aspects of our aid programme.
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