I propose to take Questions Nos. 34, 87 and 131 together.
The Government continues to have as an objective the achievement of the ODA target of 0.7% of GNP by 2007. Every effort is being made to provide the resources needed to work towards that target. Despite the many pressures on the public finances at present, an allocation of €400 million has been made in the 2004 Estimates to my Department's Vote for international co-operation. In addition, elements of ODA which are administered by other Government Departments are expected to total some €80 million this year. Total spending on ODA, therefore, is expected to approach €480 million in 2004, the highest ever in the history of the programme. This level of expenditure, in difficult budgetary circumstances, demonstrates the profound commitment of the Government to the attainment of the UN target.
In 2001, our aid expenditure amounted to 0.33% of GNP. Provisional figures indicate that the percentage in 2003 was 0.41%. This year it is likely to reach the same level or possibly exceed it. In percentage terms, Ireland will remain one of the world's leading donors — we are currently in seventh place — and well ahead of the EU average. The Government hopes that increased allocations, the scale and timing of which will be considered on an ongoing basis, will be possible over the coming years with a view to the achievement of our objective. As budgetary circumstances improve, we hope that renewed momentum towards the UN target will be possible.