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Budget 2022 must rebuild our commitment to ODA

Though Ireland faces a number of significant challenges, it is important to remember that those in much poorer countries face a far worse situation.

Budget 2021 allocated €867m in overseas aid. At the time, we estimated that this would bring Ireland’s ODA allocation to 0.42 per cent of projected GNI* in 2021. The United Nations-agreed target is for developed countries like Ireland to provide 0.7 per cent of national income in development aid. Since 2008, when Ireland’s ODA reached a peak of 0.59 per cent of GNP, expenditure as a proportion of national income, regardless of how that is measured, has decreased significantly. This limits the resources available for tackling extreme poverty, hunger, and human rights abuses. This funding is needed now more than ever, as developing countries attempt to get to grips with Covid-19 and the resultant economic disruption. This crisis will expose afresh the depth of the inequalities within and between countries.

Rebuilding our commitment to ODA and honouring the UN target should be important policy paths for Ireland to pursue in the coming years. Not only would its achievement be a major success for government and an important element in the delivery of promises made but it would also be of significance internationally. Ireland’s success would not only provide additional assistance to needy countries but would also provide leadership to those other European countries who do not meet the target.

We also support the call for the permanent cancellation of all external debt payments due from developing countries in 2021, 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.

In our Socio-Economic Review, Social Justice Matters: a 2021 guide to a fairer Irish society, we included projections to reach the UN target by 2030, with €867m required again in Budget 2022 to keep Ireland on track. The contraction in GNI* makes this goal more achievable and is an opportunity to recover lost ground in relation to our ODA commitments.

We acknowledge the difficulty of making projections in national income at present, but once the economic situation has stabilised, the new Government should publish a roadmap towards this target.

Read the full text of our Budget Choices 2022 Policy Briefing - Delivering a Fair Recovery - HERE.