Sunday 22 April 2018

Irish development aid falls fractionally as overall from world's richest countries rises to record levels

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Development aid from some of the world’s richest countries rose to record levels last year – but Ireland’s allocation has been falling fractionally.

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said countries doled out $134.8bn (€97.6bn) to poorer nations last year.

But the gain was skewed by Britain, which increased aid by nearly a third, and the United Arab Emirates, whose contributions rose more than threefold as it offered financial support to Egypt's army-backed government during political unrest.

The OECD said that despite “continued budgetary pressures”, Ireland has largely stabilised allocations.

But it noted that aid had fallen fractionally.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said €602m has been allocated to Official Development Assistance (ODA) this year, while €622m was spent in 2013 and €629m in 2012.

Several other countries in the euro zone also paid less, including France, Greece and Portugal.

Of the 28 members of the OECD's development assistance committee,17 increased their overseas aid last year while 11 cut it back.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said it was heartening to see governments increasing their development aid budgets again, despite the financial constraints they are currently facing.

“However, assistance to some of the neediest countries continues to fall, which is a serious concern,” Mr Gurria said.

 The European Union is the world's largest collective aid donor, but only five states have met the 0.7pc of income target set by the United Nations.

The United Kingdom increased its ODA by 27.8pc to meet the 0.7pc target.

Development Minister Joe Costello said Ireland would seek to achieve the target as soon as economic circumstances permitted.

The largest donors by volume last year were the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and France.

Mr Costello said recently that Ireland’s “substantial allocations” of public funds demonstrated the Government’s commitment at a time of “extraordinary domestic economic difficulty.”

“ I believe this represents a very significant achievement, reflecting the commitment of the Irish people to the fight to end extreme poverty and hunger,” he said.

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