Statement by Minister Dermot Ahern on Publication of the Estimates for 2006
Foreign Affairs Estimates for 2006 Published
The Estimates for Public Services in 2006 were published today. They include a total provision of €186.6 million for Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs) and €600 million for Vote 29 (International Cooperation – Overseas Development Assistance (ODA)).
This allocation means that total Government spending on overseas aid will reach:
• €675 million in 2006 (including the contribution of €75 million from other Departments' Votes)
• This compares with €545 million this year
• This represents €160 for every man, woman and child in the country in 2006.
• Next year's aid spending represents 0.47% of GNP
• In 2007 the Government will reach 0.5% of GNP
• This growth will continue all the way up to 2012, reaching the UN target of 0.7%.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D., announces:
A 45% Increase for Emigrant Services
The Minister said today that he is extremely pleased that €12 million will be available to support our emigrants in 2006. This €12 million represents an overall increase of 45% on 2005 and is twelve times greater than the 1997 allocation.
The Minister stressed that “the substantially increased allocation reflects, in the clearest possible way, the strength of the Government's continuing commitment to our emigrant communities.”
The funding will, in large part, go to groups providing front line services to our emigrant communities in Britain, particularly the most vulnerable Irish people there.
There will also be substantial increases for emigrant groups providing similar services in the United States and Australia.
A €600 million allocation for Overseas Development assistance
Taken together with the contributions of other Government Departments, this allocation means that total Government spending on aid will reach €675 million in 2006.
“I am delighted to be able to announce that 2006 will, once again, see record expenditure on official development assistance. This allocation puts us firmly on the road to reaching the 0.5% interim target the Government set for 2007 spending, on our way to meeting the UN target for spending on aid of 0.7% of GNP in 2012, with a further interim target of 0.6% in 2010.”
In line with the Taoiseach's commitment at the UN Summit in September, the following four areas will provide the basis for the immediate expansion of the programme:
doubling of our funding for efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases to €100 million.
provision of extra resources to combat famine and hunger and an enhanced capacity to respond to disasters.
support for increasing the role of the private sector in development efforts.
an increase in our support for efforts to strengthen governance and to combat corruption.
The Minister remarked that “with the commitment of this Government to the development agenda and the large and predictable increases of ODA now in prospect, Ireland can set itself the achievable aim of being the very best in the development field. It is what the Irish public expects and deserves”.
Increased Contributions to International Organisations
In welcoming a €4 million increase - from €22.3m to €26.3m - in Ireland's funding contributions to international organisations, the Minister for Foreign Affairs reiterated Ireland's commitment to the United Nations. He said that “the increase was a tangible recognition of the importance of the UN as the primary mechanism for ensuring international security”.
The majority of the increase in the allocation results from larger mandatory contributions to the United Nations, including an increase in Ireland's share of the UN peacekeeping budget.
Significant funding for the European Movement in Ireland
The allocation to bodies in Ireland who further international relations has been increased by 69%. The Minister noted that “the expanded allocation will provide for a significant increase in the support given to the European Movement in Ireland to allow it to expand its work of disseminating information and stimulating debate on EU matters”.
A €200,000 allocation for the Asia Strategy
The Estimate for Vote 28 contains, for the first time, an allocation for the Asia Strategy. Minister Ahern stated that:
“The establishment of a dedicated budget line for the Asia Strategy and the allocation of €200,000 for next year will enable my Department to meets its obligations under phase two of this important trade and business development initiative. This allocation will provide funding for incoming trade delegations, media visits from the priority countries and the expansion of the exchange of officials programme”.
Increase for cultural activities
Embassies abroad have an important role in enhancing awareness and appreciation of Ireland and of Irish culture. The Minister for Foreign Affairs believes that the increased allocation for cultural activities in 2006 (a 29% increase to almost €1m) will provide our Embassies abroad with increased resources to plan and implement their cultural programmes and activities.
The Minister said he also intends to provide assistance to support Irish Studies at third level colleges abroad. “Programmes such as these, ranging from literature, the Irish language to history and politics, are an important means of increasing knowledge of Ireland, including of contemporary Ireland.
17th November 2005