Friday, September 11, 2009

Ireland needs to share aid burden

Irish Aid THE comments of junior minister Peter Power, to the effect that the amount spent on the Irish aid programme is equivalent to what the Government will borrow over 10 days (Irish Independent, September 10) is the weakest possible argument to maintain this programme in our current circumstances.

The Irish Government has generously provided, on behalf of the people, €5.8bn in Irish aid since the turn of the century.

Our circumstances are now radically different, quite unstable and wholly uncertain. There is a compelling need to use resources efficiently, productively and creatively.

There is, for example, something wholly irrational about closing embassies that are a potential conduit of investment, trade and reputation recovery and concurrently spending €600m of borrowed money to be recognised as the sixth largest donor of aid in the world, in per capita terms.

It is certainly a laudable objective to allocate a portion of income to noble objectives. It is a different matter to allocate a portion of debt.

Perhaps some effort could be made to jointly sponsor certain aid programmes with other parties, or nations, who have money, rather than seeking to be the sole sponsor.

That would mean an aid footprint could be maintained but that Ireland would forego its badge of exclusivity.

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