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Ireland must keep commitments despite budget

Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide, has said that Ireland can and must reach the 0.7% target despite today's cut to the overseas aid budget.

Official figures from the Department of Finance confirmed that the 2009 budget for overseas aid will be set at €891 million which equates to 0.56% of GNP, a drop of 0.01% on 2008.

Concern acknowledged that the budget was prepared in extremely difficult domestic and global circumstances. However, the organisation said today’s announcement is consistent with Ireland remaining broadly on track to meet its solemn commitment of contributing 0.7% of GNP to overseas aid by 2012 and to reach the interim target of 0.6% by 2010.  

“Despite today’s cut to the overseas aid budget, Ireland can and must still reach 0.7% by the 2012 target,” said Mr Arnold.

Broader impact 

Concern’s qualified response came with a clear message about the broader impact of the current economic crisis on the poorest and most vulnerable in the developing world. 

Tom continued: “The world’s poorest are faced with a triple whammy – the food price crisis, climate change and, now, the global financial crisis.  In these times of multiple crises, international leadership on aid and delivery on the Millennium Development Goals is crucial. Ireland has been playing a leading role to date and must continue to do so.”

Battling hunger 

However, Concern’s CEO added: “If GNP continues to fall, we also need to recognise that our aid budget will continue to fall. If that happens, it would mean less funding for those in ever-greater need. 925 million people face hunger on a daily basis. By the end of this year up to a billion people in the developing world could be battling hunger. These are the figures which must spur us towards our 2010 and 2012 targets and towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”

The Department of Finance overseas aid figures are available here.