WOCA load of rubbish – fiddling aid numbers at the G8

response to the new challenges for development cooperation caused by the global economic crisis, the European Commission put forward a “Whole of the Union” approach arguing that not just official aid but also export credits, investment guarantees and technology transfers should be counted towards the EU’s development contribution. Others are bound to argue that military spending should be included. Whatever the theoretical merits of the argument, it’s impossible to divorce Italy’s attempt to move the accounting goalposts from its dismal record on aid. According to Iacopo Viciani, the coordinator of an NGO task force on aid effectiveness,  the Italian government has never contributed more than 0.2% of its GDP to development aid. In 2007, Prodi’s government established a timeline for increasing aid in order to meet the 0.51% EU target by 2010. But despite budget increases, aid spending remained at 0.2% in 2008 instead of rising to 0.33% as planned. And it only gets worse: the 2009 budget includes a drastic cut (by 56%) in the aid budget. In January 2009 development allocations reached their lowest level ever, at €321 million – less than the amount collected privately by NGOs. But even more dangerous than Italy’s attempts to justify its feeble performance is the precedent it sets for other G8 countries to follow suit. They are all in recession (see graph) and there will be ever-louder voices in every Finance Ministry seeking a reverse gear on aid. So watch out for signs of goalposts being shifted, amid the inevitable spate of lazy headlines about earthquakes, tremors etc (the summit has been moved to l’Aquila, the site of a horrendous earthquake earlier this year). For G8 watchers, Thursday is climate change day, and Friday covers aid, food and Africa (see optimistic FT curtain raiser on the shift from food aid to investment in agriculture). See here for Oxfam’s coverage of events, and here for my colleague Max Lawson’s curtain-raiser opinion piece. And my favourite G8 moment so far? Bob Geldof getting Sylvio Berlusconi to apologise for breaking his promises on aid. You couldn’t make it up.]]>

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5 Responses to “WOCA load of rubbish – fiddling aid numbers at the G8”
  1. Claudia

    it is totally symptomatic that Italy makes such a proposal couple of weeks after Italian courts have announced that government corruption in Italy is costing the country up to 60 billion euros a year.
    As Transparency International have shown, in a corruption report, Italy becomes more corrupt every year and it will consume more government money in 2009 compared to the previous years.
    That is the ugly picture of Italy, and Britain is not beautiful in Transparency International picture either…
    Do you deny the connections?

  2. All governments love to create grey areas just like the Italians are doing here. Gives them so much to work with when misleading the public. Politicians just cannot tell it like it is. Looks like the Italians could be genuinely skint though