Written Answers. - Overseas Development Aid.

Proinsias De Rossa

Question:

29 Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when it is expected that the UN targets for overseas development aid of 0.7 per cent of GNP will be reached; the Irish ODA figure for 1998 as a percentage of GNP; if he will set a definite timetable for the achievement of the UN target; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8156/98]

The budget approved by the Government for spending on Ireland's official development assistance in 1998 will reach a record level of £137 million. This will be equivalent to an estimated 0.32 per cent of GNP.

The resources available for official development assistance, ODA, have increased significantly in recent years. Between 1992 and 1998, the budget has increased from £40 million to £137 million — a very substantial increase in money terms. Expressed as a percentage of GNP, the growth has been from 0.16 per cent to 0.32 per cent — a twofold increase.

The Government is committed to maintaining a rapid rate of growth of ODA with a view to achieving the target set out in the Government programme that ODA will reach 0.45 per cent of GNP by the year 2002. The 1998 budget of £137 million is a first step on the way to meeting that target and it is hoped that the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNP can be reached as soon as possible thereafter as economic and financial circumstances permit.