Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Development Projects.


asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of applications for new development projects which the Government have received; the number of new development projects which have commenced in 1989; and the projects which are planned in this year.

The bilateral aid programme comprises a number of different schemes under which projects are implemented in co-operation with other bodies e.g. the Governments of developing countries, non-governmental organisations (NGOS), multilateral organisations and Irish educational institutions.

The NGO scheme operates on the basis of standard formal applications. This year to date 50 new applications for grants have been received of which 22 were approved.

Annual programmes are also agreed with a number of multilateral organisations. For 1989 seven projects were agreed with the Economic Development Institute of the World Bank. Of these five were in new areas and two were developments from previous projects. Likewise six were agreed with the International Trade Centre of which five were in new areas and one was from a previous area. A new project study, Women in Development, was commenced in 1989 in co-operation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which follows up a previous study carried out in 1988.

In relation to Government to Government co-operation, the largest element of the bilateral programme, suggestions are received from time to time from developing country Governments and various bodies and agencies for new projects. However, these need to be developed and discussed in detail with the developing country before a comprehensive project proposal can be prepared for funding approval.

In 1989, one new project was submitted for formal approval and accepted. A further new project, approved at the end of last year, also commenced in 1989.

Further project planning exercises will take place in the second half of 1989 in the light of budgetary conditions.

Particularly referring to the bilateral area, will the Minister confirm that the agencies which rely on cofinancing or direct financing from the Department have been told that there is absolutely no point in submitting any new applications to the Department for the rest of this year?

No, I am not aware that agencies are being told that and I would be grateful if the Deputy would let me have information on specific cases.

Is the Minister aware that many agencies have lists of highly desirable projects which have been sponsored by partner countries or that aid has been sought by countries with whom we have traditionally worked closely? There is a general understanding that there is no point in coming to the Department because, clearly, they do not have any funds.

As the Deputy is well aware, no matter how much money is available in any year there will always be more projects than the money available for them. I do not agree with the Deputy's premise.

As a result of the level of cut-back in the bilateral aid programme referred to in earlier questions, will the Minister agree that there is not just a slowing down but a reversal in our development aid programme? Will he also agree that what has happened in the last few years has undermined the great credibility we were building up in Third World countries in regard to this programme?

The Deputy is engaging in a rehash of previous questions.

I do not agree with the Deputy's comments. The tremendous credibility built up by the Irish bilateral aid programme over the last number of years still exists and is very welcome.

What about the comments of the agencies?

We cannot have a rehash of previous questions.