State 'committed' to pledge on overseas aid spending
THE Government is still committed to spending 0.7pc of national income on overseas aid by 2015, despite the strain on the country's finances.
Junior minister for overseas aid Peter Power said Ireland would be ahead of the EU target of spending 0.51pc of national income on foreign aid this year.
And he said the State was determined to reach the international target of 0.7pc by 2015.
The Government's insistence that it will reach these levels comes after a major shift in the target dates.
Originally, the 0.7pc target was to be reached by 2012, but it was then revised to 2015 "at the latest".
The decision to cut €25m from the overseas aid budget in last year's Budget was blamed on the need to revise the target dates. But, despite the continued recession and the imminent tough Budget, Mr Power last night claimed the 2015 target still stood.
"Even as we focus on our own economic situation at home, we are determined that Ireland will continue to make a strong contribution to the fight against poverty and hunger through the Irish Aid programme and the partners with whom we work," Mr Power said at the publication of Irish Aid's annual report.
The report showed that Ireland was the seventh most generous international donor last year in per capita terms.
Following the devastating flooding in Pakistan and the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, Mr Power said the Irish people had been "very generous" despite the economic pressures in their own homes.
Aid budgets around the world are under increasing pressure and the imperative now is to make aid more effective and focused.