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NEWS | Wednesday, 09 April 2008

Development NGOs call on Malta to publish aid figures

Matthew Vella

NGOs from the umbrella organisation SKOP (Solidarity and Cooperation), yesterday called on the government to issue detailed figures of Malta’s overseas development aid (ODA) of 2007.
The platform said the government had failed to comply with its request to publish “a clear and transparent breakdown of its ODA expenditure” after figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) registered a decrease in European aid to Third World countries.
Spokesperson Mario Gerada said Malta’s overseas aid had also registered a drop in the year 2006. “Given the lack of data, SKOP is not in a position to comment on Malta’s aid delivery in 2007. However, SKOP encourages the government to keep its positive track record of 2005, while publishing a clear and transparent report of ODA figures.”
Yesterday, the European confederation of development NGOs Concord said that European aid had fell by €1.7 billion.
“European governments’ failure to meet aid pledges is nothing short of disgraceful. Europe likes to see itself as a world leader in development assistance, but these figures show that governments are taking a step backward on their commitments,” said Olivier Consolo, Concord director.
“17 of the 27 European member States have not increased their Official Development Assistance at all in the last year and of these, 11 have actually allowed it to fall. The gap between promises and reality must be closed.”
According to the OECD, European aid fell from 0.41% to 0.38% of gross national income (GNI) in 2007. Concord said European governments were getting further from their 2010 commitments of 0.56% GNI for ODA and have yet to set out how they will meet their aid targets.
The largest donors in 2007, by volume, were the United States, followed by Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Japan. The only countries to exceed the United Nations target of 0.7% of GNI were Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
Concord accuses most European donors of inflating official aid figures by counting as aid debt relief and funding to foreign students and refugees in European countries. In 2006, it said EU governments had inflated European aid figures by nearly 30%. In 2006, €13.6 billion of reported ODA was in fact debt cancellation primarily for Iraq and Nigeria (€11 billion euros), educating foreign students in Europe (€1.6 billion) and housing refugees in Europe (€1 billion). Concord considers that this cannot be counted as genuine aid.
According to the European Commission’s April 2007 figures, Malta spent €7 million or 0.15% of GNI on ODA in 2006 – less than what it contributed in 2004, when it spent 0.18% in overseas development aid. The figure then was claimed to be inflated by over 40 per cent, according to Concord.
The National Platform of Maltese NGDOs is Malta’s network of voluntary and non-governmental organisations working in international development and humanitarian aid. SKOP’s members are: CamYouths, Forum for Justice and Cooperation, Inizjamed, Integra Foundation, Jesuit Centre for Faith & Justice (Malta), Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), Kare4Kenya, Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust, Kopin, Moviment Graffitti, PeaceLab, Share Foundation, Thirld World Group.


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