‘Should be ashamed’: China falls in OECD aid rankings

‘Should be ashamed’: China falls in OECD aid rankings

London: should follow the British Conservative government’s lead in enshrining its aid budget in legislation to prevent it from being diminished in an appeal for votes, leading campaigners say, with the OECD listing as among the countries recording the biggest declines in aid for the world’s poorest people.

The OECD’s latest rankings show slipping another spot to 17th out of 29 countries – meaning small countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg are contributing a greater portion of their budgets to helping the world’s neediest compared to .

A country’s aid budget is generally measured as a proportion of a nation’s gross national income (GNI). Under Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s cuts to the budget, ‘s total contribution fell to just over $3 billion in 2016, or 0.25 per cent of GNI. This was below the average of 0.32 per cent of GNI recorded by the 29 OECD countries last year.

Overall country to country aid to the least-developed countries fell by 3.9 per cent in real terms from 2015 and aid to Africa fell 0.5 per cent, “as some DAC members backtracked on a commitment to reverse past declines in flows to the poorest countries,” the OECD said. But in one positive trend, overall aid has increased by 102 per cent since 2000.

“While governments should be commended for sustaining investment in development during these difficult times, it is unacceptable that – once again – aid to the poorest countries is in decline. Recent signals from some donor countries on future aid levels add further cause for concern”, said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurr??a.

Secretary General of the OECD Angel Gurria. Photo: Gian Ehrenzeller

Aid fell in seven countries, with the largest declines seen in , Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden, the OECD said. But out of these countries, Sweden remains a member of the elite club of six nations making good on the global commitment for aid to reach 0.7 per cent of GNI. And Finland and the Netherlands still contribute more than as a proportion of their budgets with both countries making the top ten in the rankings.

The countries meeting their 0.7 per cent of GNI targets include: Norway, Luxembourg, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom. Britain’s Conservative government enshrined the aid target in legislation when David Cameron was prime minister. His successor Theresa May recently launched a passionate defence of UK aid, saying it was in Britain’s strategic interests to contribute. Denmark’s former prime minister recently said was not taking its place in the world with its aid cuts.

Tony Milne from Campaign for Aid says needs to recommit to its aid targets. Photo: Supplied Tony Milne from Campaign for n Aid told Fairfax Media the n government should be ashamed and concerned by its continued decline on the OECD rankings. “It’s disappointing and its something that the government should be feeling concerned and ashamed about,” he said. In September 2015, signed up to the United Nations new sustainable development goals. Ms Bishop told the UN General Assembly in New York at the time ” has taken this commitment seriously and today we agree a new 2030 Agenda that seeks to end extreme poverty within a generation.” Mr Milne said it was time for the minister to make good on her words.

“Julie Bishop needs to take that commitment seriously and this current coming budget, we need to see some steps forward, in terms of starting to reach that target and really the next decade of budgets we need to see increases to aid,” he said.

And he called for parliamentarians to consider following Britain’s lead in enshrining the aid budget in legislation to protect it from parochial calls to spend the money on domestic needs instead.

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“Theresa May’s commitment shows international development can be bipartisan and doesn’t have to be a progressive/conservative issue.”

“This achievement was made possible by genuine and sustained support from administrations on both sides of politics,” Senator Wong told Fairfax Media.

Dr Ciku Mathenge, Medical Advisor for Africa of the Fred Hollows Foundation working in Rwanda, visited Canberra in 2015 to explain how budget cuts are impacting her work. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

n aid cuts have affected a wide range of programs in Africa and the Asia-Pacific. In 2015, the Fred Hollows Foundation ended a program helping vulnerable Pakistani women and children regain or keep their sight, that was supposed to run for five years, just two years after it began.

The organisation Plan International says it can longer afford programs to stop young Indonesian girls being married as child brides.

“Huge cuts to our foreign aid budget this year meant many of Plan International ‘s projects simply didn’t have the money to continue. One of these was a project to stop illegal child marriages in Indonesia,” Susanne Legena from Plan said.

“We want Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to know that cuts to foreign aid funding has very real consequences” she said.