Written Answers. - ESAF Contributions.

Trevor Sargent


517 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance the reason for reintroducing Ireland's contributions to the enhanced structural adjustment facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2005/99]

The Deputy will be aware of the Government's £31.5 million debt package announced on 16 September last. In the context of this major debt relief package and in view of the progress made under the HIPC initiative and the lessons learnt from the external evaluation of ESAF, I consider that it is now appropriate for Ireland to honour its proposed contribution to ESAF. Subscription to ESAF is consistent with and should enhance the attainment of Ireland's wider overseas development co-operation objectives.

Ireland accepts that structural adjustment is a fundamental and unavoidable part of the development process, not only for the developing world but even for the most advanced economies. Our own experience in Ireland during the mid-1980s serves to remind us that the structural adjustment process is difficult and painful. It was this process, however, which laid the foundations for the economic success which we now enjoy.

Notwithstanding our fundamental concerns for good government, sound macro-economic management and the right balance of sectoral and structural adjustment, Ireland has campaigned for some years to have certain aspects of the IMF's ESAF programme modified. The external evaluation of ESAF published last year proposed that the facility should promote deeper ownership of ESAF programmes on the part of the countries affected; incorporate social impact assessments of adjustment programmes; improve participative processes, particularly with the NGO sector; and deepen collaboration with the World Bank.

The IMF has already taken steps to accommodate these measures in the planning, design and implementation of ESAF programmes. This is a welcome development. It is now up to Ireland and other like minded countries to ensure that these policies are incorporated and deepened in the ESAF process. The Deputy can be assured that I will continue to do so.