PRESS RELEASE: DÓCHAS CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO DO MORE ON OVERSEAS AID

11 october 2016

Dóchas – The Irish Association of Non-Governmental Development Organisations

Tuesday 11th October 2016

DÓCHAS CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO DO MORE ON OVERSEAS AID

Dóchas – The Irish Association of Non-Governmental Development Organisations – has welcomed the announcement of the increase of €10 million in funding for overseas aid to €651 million in today’s budget. However, Dóchas has also expressed disappointment that this allocation is a further reduction when measured as a percentage of Gross National Income (GNI).

Suzanne Keatinge, CEO of Dóchas said: “At a time when hundreds of thousands of people have been hit by the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, when 65 million people are displaced due to wars and conflict, and an estimated 60 million people are facing severe food shortages due to the effects of El Niño, the Government has announced a budget allocation of €651 million for official development assistance (ODA) in 2017.

“While this may be a slight increase in Euro terms, which is to be welcomed, it also represents a clear decrease as a percentage of GNI, based on the Government’s own projected growth figures. The outcome of today’s announcement is that ODA spending in 2017 could be as low as 0.3%, which would be the lowest percentage spend that we have seen on ODA in seventeen years. This is despite the Government’s clear commitment to making progress towards achieving the agreed UN target of spending 0.7% of GNI on ODA.

“This decrease brings Ireland even further away from achieving this target, and compares negatively with world leaders on ODA spending. Ireland led the way on the negotiations for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which involved a commitment to ensuring each country plays its part. Working towards the 0.7% target is a crucial part of this commitment and it is disheartening to see Ireland not putting our words into action.”

There are no steps towards achieving the UN target in the budget announced by Minister Noonan and Minister Donohoe today. It is vital that the Government advances a multi-annual plan for achieving the 0.7% target as a matter of urgency.

Dóchas recognises the demands placed on the Government by the economic crash and the need to increase funding to domestic programmes. However, it is equally important to recognise that the UN target was set as a percentage of GNI precisely to allow for decreases and increases in monetary value as economic circumstances vary. It is intended to act as an indicator of a country’s relative commitment to development.

Keatinge added: “Ireland has traditionally played an important part in moving the development agenda forward. Dóchas members want Ireland to play its rightful role as a leader on this issue. This is especially important given Ireland’s upcoming candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council. Taking visible steps towards reaching the promised 0.7% target is essential.”

Dóchas also welcomes the reference in today’s budget regarding the benefits to developing countries of increasing global tax transparency. However, much more needs to be done to ensure there is a greater level of tax transparency both at domestic and international level.