Finnish aid to developing countries fails to reach goals
According to preliminary information, Finland's aid to developing countries fell last year to 0.39 per cent of the gross national product. In 2005, the proportion of foreign aid was some 0.46 per cent of GNP.
The goal set by the government in its budget discussions is to allocate some 0.42 per cent of GNP to development aid. According to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the gap between the target and the realised funding is attributable to the surprisingly good economic development in the country. Because Finland's GNP grew more sharply than expected, the agreed proportion of development cooperation, measured in euros, failed to reach the target.
Gunvor Kronman Kronman notes further that the current situation is bound to press the government into separating the foreign aid from the budget framework. Moreover, the government should state its goal simply as a percentage.
"If the sums are recorded in euros, it is almost impossible to meet the set targets", she remarks, also saying that Finland has committed itself to the target of the raising of its development aid to 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2010, which is the goal set by the UN.
In fact, the current government announced that during its term it would make efforts to achieve the 0.7 per cent goal, "on condition that the economic situation allows for this".
Moreover, the government managed to increase the amount of Finland's financial input in development cooperation by EUR 240 million. Even the percentage portion of GDP grew annually, except for last year.
Nevertheless, the percentage portion failed every year to reach the annual goal set by the government, except once, in 2005.
In Kronman's view, Finland's international reputation is deteriorating and its status is declining, because of the country's insufficient development aid funding.
However, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paula Lehtomäki (Centre) believes that the main thing is to have a credible plan to reach the percentage goal.
In 2005, Finland's development aid was around EUR 726 million, while last year it remained at approximately EUR 659 million.
Sinikka Antila from the Foreign Ministry explained the decline by reporting that the somewhat higher figure for 2005 included debt relief granted to Iraq, even though such arrangements do not belong to regular development aid.
Last year, development assistance worth EUR 12 million remained unpaid, according to preliminary information.
Previously in HS International Edition:
NGOs appeal to cardboard effigy of Finance Minister over development aid funding (24.2.2006)
Foreign Ministry fears that goals of development aid funding may not be met (17.2.2006)
The Development Policy Committee