Australia needs a road-map towards international aid level of 0.7 per cent GNI
Australia is best placed among OECD nations to raise its contributions to official development assistance (ODA) towards 0.7 per cent, according to international development agency World Vision.
New figures from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development reveal that despite Australia having the lowest government debt levels for any OECD donor nation, our contribution to ODA fell in 2009 from 0.32 per cent to 0.29 per cent of GNI.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has previously committed the federal government to achieve a level of ODA of 0.5 per cent of GNI by 2015/16.
However, World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello said Australia’s rapid recovery from the global financial crisis created an opportunity to respond to the calls for a higher target and to aim for the internationally accepted level of 0.7 per cent of GNI. This is the level reaffirmed by the 190 countries who signed up in 2000 to achieve the Millennium Development Goals to seek to halve extreme poverty by 2015.
“Now that the impact of the GFC is fading, donor nations including Australia will need to accelerate their support,” Rev Costello said. “Even with the existing target of 0.5 per cent – a welcome increase from recent years – we call on the Prime Minister to ensure that commitment is met in an effective way with early and well-targeted aid spending.”
“I fully agree with the Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance Bob McMullan who was reported today saying the 0.5 per cent target is not high enough.” Mr McMullan is quoted as saying in The Age today that : "[W]e're so far behind. ... Even after we've finished scaling up, we won't be three-quarters of the way there (to 0.7 per cent)."
Rev Costello said the world was making progress. “Twenty-five years ago there were 60,000 children dying each day of preventable causes. Two years ago that figure was halved, which is a huge improvement, but 25,000 children are still dying each day. ”
World Vision calls on the Prime Minister to adopt a roadmap towards increasing Official Development Assistance to equal 0.7 per cent of GNI, building on current fiscal commitments and realities. Rev Costello said “ A roadmap to 0.7 per cent would be widely supported by Australians. Opinion surveys show that 80 percent of Australians want the Government to join other donor nations and provide 0.7 per cent.”
This week in the United Kingdom, both major parties in their recently released election manifestos committed to enshrine their 0.7 per cent commitment into legislation for every year from 2013.
Preliminary aid volume figures of OECD donor countries for 2009 total $120 billion and represent a small increase in real terms over 2008 of less than 1 per cent. The OECD report reveals Australia has dropped from 15th place in 2008 to 16th place in 2009. Australia’s ODA GNI ratio for 2009 is 0.29 per cent. In comparison the average country effort from all donors for 2009 is 0.48 per cent.
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World Vision CEO Tim Costello is available for comment.
For further information: Bill Pheasant 0413 701 028