Submission to Minister for Finance Investing in Ireland’s future - Overseas development assistance- 2011

Posted on Sunday, 18 September 2011

Social Justice Ireland's 2012 Pre-Budget Submission of DOCHAS, the organisation of Irish development NGOs.

Ireland’s Overseas Development Assistance Budget set to fall for the fourth year in a row

Ireland is heading for the fourth year in a row in which its Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) Budget will fall as a percentage of Gross National Product. According to the annual report of Irish Aid just published, in 2010 Ireland’s Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) budget as a percentage of Gross National Product fell for the third year in a row.

 In 2010 €675 million was spent on ODA equivalent to 0.53 per cent of GNP. This was a reduction from 0.59 per cent in 2008 and 0.55 per cent in 2009. The 2011 budget is expected to be €659 million, a drop of €16 million on 2010 and a reduction to 0.52 per cent of GNP. If this expectation proves to be accurate then Ireland’s ODA will have fallen four years in a row. This is a totally unacceptable situation.

Social Justice Ireland believes that in Budget 2012 Ireland’s overseas aid budget should not be reduced any further. In fact it should be increased. In the context of Ireland’s current challenges it is important to bear in mind that many people in the world are in a far worse situation and have been in this situation for a very long time. Ireland and other countries in the better-off part of the world should not abandon the world’s poorest at this crucial time.

One of the major cuts in Ireland’s second Budget of 2009 was to the overseas aid budget. It was cut by €100 million, adding to a cut in January 2009 of €95 million. The Irish Government made a commitment to reach a target of spending 0.7% of our national income on overseas aid by 2015. Social Justice Ireland strongly urges Government to provide an additional €50m in Budget 2012 towards reaching that 2015 ODA target.

Ireland’s overseas aid programme represents excellent value for money, in that it effectively assists the poorest and most vulnerable people of our world, and has contributed greatly to improving Ireland’s reputation – and influence – abroad.

Ireland’s own credibility as an international actor of high standing is vital to our economic, financial, diplomatic, and foreign policy interests. In a globalised, inter-dependent world, Ireland must be seen to be an engaged and reliable member of the international community.

In devising Budget 2012, therefore, the Government must:

Demonstrate visible progress in Budget 2012 towards the 2015 commitment.

Enhance the quality, predictability and overall impact of our development efforts.

In particular the Irish Government should demonstrate its strong commitment to international cooperation in Budget 2012, by:

· Increasing ODA spending to approximately 0.55% of GNI, in order to make the progress required to remain on track with Ireland’s commitment to achieving 0.7% by 2015.

· Establishing a multi-year framework for ODA and outline the annual targets for ODA that would enable Ireland to reach the 0.7% target by 2015.

· Restoring the multi-year funding agreement, as recommended by the OECD, under which the Department of Finance and Department of Foreign Affairs previously made medium-term forward plans.

· Progressing meaningfully towards obligatory reporting on the payment schedules of Ireland’s multi-year ODA commitments and Ireland’s performance in meeting its financial commitments within ODA.

· Publishing reports on the implementation of Ireland’s commitment to spend up to 20% of the total ODA allocation on Hunger, and at least €100 million of ODA each year on HIV & AIDS and other communicable diseases.