As Minister of State with responsibility for Ireland’s Official Development Assistance, I am very conscious of the need to have a high level of assurance that our development assistance reaches its intended beneficiaries and that it makes a real difference in the lives of the poorest people. To ensure that our assistance is effectively delivered to those most in need in developing countries, we work in partnership with national and local governments, local communities, NGOs, and key multilateral partners such as the United Nations and the European Union. All programmes considered for funding assistance are rigorously appraised by Irish Aid staff using clear criteria, including efficiency in the use of resources, cost effectiveness and sustainability of intended impact.
Programmes in receipt of funding through our development programme are subject to regular internal and external monitoring to ensure that the intended objectives and goals are being achieved. They are evaluated and audited by independent experts as well as by my Department’s Evaluation and Audit Unit. The Unit’s work is regularly reviewed by the independent Audit Committee of my Department. In Partner Countries benefiting from our support, we provide assistance to national Government oversight institutions, such as the Auditor General’s Office and the Public Accounts Committees of National Parliaments, to ensure Governments are held to account for the effective expenditure of public funds.
We have zero tolerance for any misuse or misappropriation of aid funding. In the event of any fraud such as happened last year in Uganda, it is our policy to demand a full refund of monies disbursed and to pursue the perpetrators through the police and court system. As the Deputy will be aware, the Government of Uganda has refunded in full the €4 million in aid funds which were misused in 2012.
The Deputy will also be aware that our new Policy for International Development, One World, One Future, which was launched in May this year, reaffirms our commitment to accountability to the Irish people and to our partners in what we do, how we work, and what we are achieving. I believe that the strong focus on appraisal, regular monitoring, independent evaluations and audit provides assurance that aid funds are very closely monitored and used for the purposes intended.