Budget 2022 allocated €1.044bn to Ireland’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme; an increase of €140m overall including an increase of €33.9m in the allocation from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Approximately €922m was allocated through the Department of Foreign Affairs. In our Budget Choices 2022 briefing, Social Justice Ireland urged Government to make a commitment to increase the aid budget in order to reach 0.70 per cent of national income. We estimate that the increase in ODA in Budget 2022 will bring the total ODA allocation to 0.43 per cent of projected GNI* in 2022, up from approximately 0.42 per cent in 2021.
Though Ireland faces a number of significant challenges, it is important to remember that those in much poorer countries face a far worse situation. Many in the Global South are without vaccines, while almost all developed countries, including Ireland, have fallen well below their climate finance targets. While Budget 2022 renewed Government’s commitment to doubling the Irish Aid commitment to climate action by 2030, this increase will only provide 26 per cent of our share to climate finance.
This is not good enough.
At uncertain economic times, it is important that policymakers remember to protect the vulnerable and ODA plays a major role in this. This is particularly so given that the recipients of Irish ODA tend to live in some of the countries who experience the worst effects of climate change—an area in which Ireland is a prime offender.
It is worth pointing out that many other countries have taken a leadership role in moving towards the UN-agreed 0.7 per cent target for developed countries, and Ireland’s record in this regard has historically been very poor. Our pre-recession peak (reached in 2008) was 0.59 per cent.
Ireland is regularly commended by the OECD Development Assistance Committee Peer Review for the effectiveness of our aid programme. We can be justifiably proud of our record of providing high quality, untied, grant-based aid. However, we still lack a strategy for reaching the 0.7 per cent target and Social Justice Ireland calls on government to develop such a roadmap with a view to reaching this target.
We also support the call for the permanent cancellation of all external debt payments due from developing countries, with no penalties, and the provision of additional emergency finance that does not create more debt. Currently, more than 60 countries spend more on debt financing than they do on healthcare.
Ireland should use its considerable international influence to ensure this debt cancellation happens.