Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Questions (50, 53)

Billy Timmins

Question:

50. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the millennium development goals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11747/14]

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Terence Flanagan

Question:

53. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps being taken to ensure that Ireland achieves the 0.7% ODA/GNI target for overseas aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11989/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions 50 and 53 together.

The Government is very strongly committed to Ireland’s overseas aid programme and to its place at the heart of Irish foreign policy. The aid programme has the reputation of being one of the best in the world. Our commitment to development cooperation is clear in the Programme for Government and has been further enhanced by the launch of our new policy for international development - One World One Future. The policy sets out our vision for a sustainable and just world in which people are empowered to overcome poverty and hunger and to fully realise their rights and potential.

One World One Future has a clear focus on the poorest countries and communities in sub-Saharan Africa and sets out three goals: reduced hunger and stronger resilience; sustainable development and inclusive economic growth; and better governance, human rights and accountability. It provides a clear framework for the prioritisation of activities and for the allocation of resources across six priority areas for action deriving from those goals. These areas are closely aligned with the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals.

Despite the very severe economic and budgetary situation we have faced, the Government has clearly demonstrated its determination since coming into office to maintain and stabilise the budget for Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the maximum possible extent. In the three years 2011 through 2013 we provided a total of over €1.9bn in ODA. This is an enormous achievement in the circumstances. For 2014, the Government has again managed to allocate almost €600 million to ODA, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to helping the poor of the world.

As with all major Exchequer spending programmes, the annual budget for ODA is ultimately a matter for the Government and is announced by the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform on budget day. Our new policy clearly states that the Government remains committed to moving towards the UN target for ODA of 0.7% of GNP as soon as economic circumstances permit.

Question No. 51 answered with Question No. 48.