UK government keeps to aid target, but bigger change needed

By staff writers
March 20, 2013

Development agencies and church leaders have welcomed the fact that the government has held to its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI (Gross National Income) on international aid.

The Anglican Archbishop of York was among those making last-minute pleas about the issue to the Chancellor and Prime Minister ahead of the Budget on 20 March 2013.

Successive governments have aspired to the aid target. But while NGOs rejoice, other development analysts point out that it is tacking tax avoidance, financial regulation, fair trade, debt, corporate abuse, corruption, commercial transparency, land reform and other structural injustices which are the real basis for eradicating poverty and tackling global inequality.

Nevertheless, the development agencies were understandably keen to talk up one achievement in a raft of campaigning priorities for which they hope it will be a further spur.

Christian Aid Director Loretta Minghella said: "Today, a 40 year-old promise to the world’s poorest was finally delivered. We congratulate the Government for ensuring that - even in challenging economic times – this country has done the right thing by the hundreds of millions of women and men around the world living in poverty."

Justin Byworth, chief executive of international children's charity World Vision, declared: “This government has demonstrated real leadership – its decision today will transform the lives of children in the world’s toughest places.

"In a world where one in eight children will go to bed hungry tonight we must keep our own challenges in perspective. Setting aside a tiny amount of our budget is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do because we know that aid works. It has already helped save five million children's lives a year.”

It is also a clear acknowledgement of the incredible work done by so many British NGOs to alleviate poverty and bring about justice for the world’s most poor and marginalised people," said Mark Lister, Progressio's Chief Executive.

Rodrigo Sandino, Progressio's Nicaragua Country Rep, said: "The UK's Department for International Development has supported many projects with significant impacts for the poor communities here, so this commitment by the UK's Chancellor is extremely welcomed by those of us in Latin America."

"For many years in Honduras," Glenda Rodriguez, the agency's sub-regional manager for Latin America continued, "DFID funds have supported agriculture projects that have become a solution to poor people, especially women, who live in remote areas. They are now able to produce some food for their families and to generate some income from this food too.

"Also with the approval in Honduras of the new Forest Law and Water Law, communities that live in the forest are now able to play a significant role in the sustainable management of their natural resources," explained Ms Rodriguez.

"This is an historic win for campaigners across the UK," said Daniel Hale, Progressio's Campaigns Manager. "For 43 years campaigners have been working to get the UK Government to reach 0.7 per cent. It's important that important promises like this are kept. We urge the Government to stick to the 0.7 per cent figure and not to back down or opt out in subsequent years.

"The Chancellor also pledged to raise issues of tax dodging at the G8 and G20, but did not make firm commitments about UK companies operating in developing countries," said Daniel. "We await the publication of the Finance Bill for details of this."

Tackling tax dodging is an important part of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign, of which Progressio, Christian Aid and World Vision are members.

[Ekk/3]

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