Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Review of White Paper on Irish Aid: Statements, Questions and Answers
Mark Daly (Fianna Fail)
Our overseas aid budget is shrinking but our commitment to the European Union is remaining static. We have committed to meeting 1.17% of the cost of the various EU programmes in this area, some of which were discussed at the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade earlier. We will pay billions of euro in that way during the period between 2014 and 2020, to which the next tranche of funding will apply. The decrease in our overseas aid budget is affecting the amount of money we are giving to bilateral programmes in our partner countries. I ask the Minister of State to examine two issues in that context. We are borrowing money from one EU institution - the European Central Bank - only to give it back to other EU institutions. Perhaps the interest we are paying on the money we have borrowed and are giving back to EU programmes could be counted as part of our overseas aid budget. We are making interest repayments to these institutions. My main concern is that as the years go by and our overseas aid budget is cut, unfortunately, we will give a greater proportion of our money to the European Union, the United Nations, the IMF and others and a smaller proportion to our partner countries. I ask the Minister of State to address that issue.