Thursday, 6 October 2005
Department of Foreign Affairs
Overseas Development Aid
Question 107: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the economic and financial parameters that will determine whether Ireland will be able to meet the target of 0.7% of GNP by 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27057/05]
Question 166: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has satisfied himself that Ireland will deliver on its second UN declaration in respect of overseas developments with reference to increasing such aid to 0.7% of GDP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27268/05]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 10, 12, 107 and 166 together.
The Taoiseach announced at the UN Millennium Review Summit in New York on 14 September that the Government will reach the target of spending 0.7% of GNP on official development assistance by 2012. This is three years earlier than the agreed EU target date of 2015. It places Ireland in the front rank of donors worldwide, in terms of both the quality and the volume of assistance we provide to the world's poorest countries. I am pleased that this decision has received a broad welcome from the development community. It is worth noting that the 2012 timeframe was my stated and public preference at the launch of the White paper consultation process.
The increases involved are very significant. They are the largest ever increases made by any Government. On the basis of current anticipated growth rates, spending on ODA would be of the order of €1.5 billion in 2012. From 2005 to 2012 we will spend as much as €8 billion on overseas aid.
We have agreed a number of steps along the way to reaching the target. First, we have an interim target of 0.5% of GNP in 2007. The aid budget will reach €773 million in that year. Second, aid spending is expected to reach 0.6% of GNP in 2010. We have, then, a clear pathway to achieving the UN target in 2012.
The commitment of this Government to overseas development cannot be doubted. Spending on overseas aid this year, at €545 million, is the highest level in the history of the programme. Ireland's aid budget has tripled since this Government came into office. With this announcement, it will triple again by 2012.
In addition to the increased resources, we have ensured that the programme is of the highest quality. The high quality of Ireland's aid programme is recognised by both NGOs and donors. The most recent peer review of the programme by the OECD said that Ireland is "at the cutting edge of international development policy". I am determined that these high standards will be maintained as the programme continues to expand.
My view about legislating on the 0.7% target is on record. I am not convinced that legislation is the answer. This would create a precedent which could be invoked for many areas of Government expenditure. Moreover, we have clearly charted the way forward, including interim targets for 2007 and 2010. Our commitment is achievable, and it will emphatically be achieved.