The Government should drop its commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on aid from 2013, according to a report published by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee today.
The 0.7% target was adopted by donor nations - including the UK - at the UN in 1970, but few have reached it. The Government, which spent 0.56% of GNI on aid in 2010, plans to introduce legislation to make the 0.7% target legally binding, which the Committee strongly oppose.
The Committee say that reaching the 0.7% target, and the 37% real terms increase in aid spending planned by the Government by 2015:
- Wrongly prioritise the amount spent rather than results achieved
- Make the achievement of the target more important than the overall effectiveness of the programme
- Risk reducing the quality, value for money, and accountability of the programme
- Increase the risk of a corrosive effect on political systems in recipient countries
Commenting, Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market, chairman of the Lords Economic Affairs Committee, said:
"The Economic Affairs Committee wholeheartedly supports humanitarian aid – our report does not propose any changes to that. Britain must maintain its strong humanitarian aid programme – which accounts for less than 10% of all aid spending.
We were unanimous in our view that legislation for a 0.7% target for overall aid spending is inappropriate, and that the Government should reconsider the target itself. We believe that development aid should be judged by the criteria of effectiveness and value for money, not by whether a specific arbitrary spending target is reached.
We received extensive evidence of the impact and effects of development aid. Our conclusions broadly support the new directions and focus of the Secretary of State for DFID, and we recommend various ways in which these can be more intensively pursued."
In its report, the Committee also:
- Welcomes the Government's decision to run down aid programmes to 16 countries, including China and Russia, but urges an early exit strategy from the Indian development aid programme
- Supports DFIDs decisions to cease funding to a few ineffective multilateral organisations but feel that more needs to be done to reduce funding to the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, and the European Commission's aid programme
- Calls for DFID to do more to tackle corruption feeding off the aid programme. DFID detected only £1.2 million of fraud in its £7.7 billion budget in the year to March 2011 – a figure the Committee found "paltry and implausibly low"
- Is concerned that cuts in DFID staffing will lead to weaker monitoring of its increasing budget
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