Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (226)

Finian McGrath

Question:

366 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will include CORI justice commission policy recommendations (details supplied) in all policy areas within his Department. [25735/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

I refer to the issues raised in the CORI policy recommendations relating to official development assistance.

With regard to the UN target, the programme for Government commits the Government to spend 0.7% of GNP on ODA by 2007. The Government will make every effort to meet that target. ODA has increased dramatically in recent years from €158 million in 1997 to an expected outturn of €475 million for the current year. Based on current GNP estimates, we will reach 0.4% of GNP this year. The 2005 Estimates process is under way and I will urge that substantial progress be made to enable us reach the UN target quickly.

On the WTO, CORI recommends that the budget should resource the development of Ireland's policies in the WTO to ensure they support a fair deal for developing countries. The Government agrees that the current round of WTO negotiations must focus on the needs and interests of developing countries to promote their integration into the world trading system. If developing countries are to achieve the millennium development goals by 2015, they must be facilitated and supported towards their fullest participation, on an equal and fair basis, in the global trade system. Least developed countries in particular often lack the resources to articulate fully and advance their national interests in the WTO negotiations. Ireland is conscious of the need to provide developing countries with the means to engage in the trade negotiations and to implement complex WTO rules and to that end we have been involved, both with the WTO and other relevant multilateral organisations, in funding trade capacity-building, particularly in recent years.

With regard to developing country debt, in July 2002, Ireland adopted a progressive policy on developing country debt which, among other issues, advocates debt cancellation for heavily indebted poor countries under certain circumstances. The strategy also concluded that, where debt cancellation was agreed, it should be accompanied by strong monitoring and accountability mechanisms to ensure that the additional funds would be directly channelled into increased social expenditure. Ireland also believes that debt cancellation must be financed by financial resources in addition to those earmarked for official development assistance.