Budget 2019 should set out a pathway for Irish ODA to reach its target

Posted on Thursday, 5 July 2018
Michael D. Higgins

While Ireland faces a number of challenges, including deficits in our public services and infrastructure, unacceptable rates of poverty, and high levels of national debt, it is important to remember that many people in the world face a far worse situation.

Budget 2018 allocated €707m in overseas aid; an amount approximately equivalent to 0.36 per cent of GNI*.

The United Nations-agreed target is for developed countries like Ireland to provide 0.7 per cent of GNP in aid. Since 2008, when Ireland’s ODA reached a peak of 0.59 per cent of GNP, expenditure as a proportion of national income, however measured, has decreased significantly. This limits the resources available for tackling extreme poverty, hunger, and human rights abuses.

Ireland’s improving economic situation is an opportunity to recover lost ground in relation to our ODA commitments. Social Justice Ireland strongly urges Government to provide an additional €136m in Budget 2019 and make a commitment to increase the aid budget over the next four years to 0.59 per cent of GNI*. The table below shows how Government can reach this 0.59 per cent target in 2022, as a staging-post on the road to reaching the UN target of 0.70 per cent by 2025.

Using GNI* as a proxy for GNP, this would return the aid budget to pre-recession levels, allowing coherent planning for aid recipients which would maximise the impact of that aid. Government should recognise the mutual benefits in stability and trade - that translate into security and prosperity - with developing nations, and should provide international leadership, honouring its commitments.