Minister O'Donnell announces Irish Aid Budget to reach a record £178m in 1999
OECD Report endorses rapid growth and high standards of Irish Aid
The OECD has given Ireland a top rating in its review of our Overseas Development Aid Programmes.
Commenting on yesterday's very positive review of the Irish Aid programme announced by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD the Minister of State Liz O Donnell TD said "This is a timely audit as we plan for the next 25 years. The review sets Ireland's aid programme in a very positive light. It shows that we have a high quality, results driven aid programme which has grown faster over the last five years than any of the 20 other OECD donor countries. We set high standards for our aid programme and we put these standards into practice. This has been recognised by our peers" the Minister said.
"This report is very good news and the findings reflect the wealth of experience and competence that we have gained in our 25 years of involvement with developing countries" the Minister added. " We are extremely pleased that the policies and direction of our aid programme received such strong endorsement from the full Committee yesterday. Noting our commitment to reducing poverty, reflected in increases in resources devoted to aid, and our efforts to reflect best practice, the DAC approved of the focused nature of the programme, the concern for quality and results, and the high standards set for the programme."
The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Irish Aid Annual Report for 1998. The Minister described the Report as a "landscape of humanitarian endeavours which has become complex and varied as the peoples of the globe in all their conditions - it reveals the diversity of Ireland's engagement with the developing world". She also announced that Irish Aid assistance is also set to reach a record £178 million during this its 25th anniversary year -bringing Ireland half way towards the UN target.
"We are in an exceptional position with a growing budget and we are currently examining a range of options and future directions for Irish Aid."
"It is a matter of great pride that we have one of the fastest growing development cooperation programmes in the world with overall Aid budget expected to reach about £178m in 1999 - an increase of almost £40m over last years figure. Further increases have been agreed for the years 2000 and 2001 and the Government remains committed to achieving 0.45% of GNP for the development cooperation programme in the lifetime of this Government." the Minister said.
The Minister went on to say, "Our growth trend stands dramatically against the international trend in aid flows. Between 1992 and 1997 total aid from DAC member states fell from $60.8 billion to $47.6 billion or from 0.33% to 0.22% of their combined GNPs. During the same period we trebled our aid budget and moved from 0.16% to 0.31% of our GNP. And for 1999 our aid budget is set to reach an estimated 0.35% of GNP."
The Minister of State also welcomed this weekend's Cologne Agreement on debt alleviation for highly indebted poor countries. The Minister said "This was an encouraging and welcome start to the issue of relieving one of the most pressing problems facing poorer countries today. This initiative should not be seen as an end in itself but as the first stage in a process which will hopefully see an easing of the crippling burden of debt for these countries".
"In September last year we ourselves announced a far ranging debt relief package worth £31.5 million. We will continue to press for strong and urgent action to assist impoverished developing countries trapped in a crippling debt cycle".
The Minister praised the generosity of the Irish people towards the people of Kosovo. "Under the UNHCR humanitarian evacuation programme Ireland a total of 1,031 refugees are now enjoying a new life of peace and security here. The generosity of the Irish people both in their welcome for the refugees in this country and in their response to the Kosovo emergency has been tremendous."
Note for Editors:
The Irish Aid programme is the Irish Government's Official Development Cooperation programme. The annual report provides a detailed description and breakdown of Irish Aid expenditure in 1998 - both Bilateral (given directly by the Irish Government to projects in a developing country) and Multilateral (channelled through international organisations). Irish Aid Bilateral expenditure is concentrated on some of the poorest countries in the world - namely sub-Saharan Africa (in particular Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia).