France strengthens its aid to developing countries

Long awaited, several times postponed, the programming bill “On solidarity development” was presented this Wednesday, December 16 to the Council of Ministers. This law aims to make the increase in the budget that France devotes to development aid to southern countries over time. This is an electoral promise from Emmanuel Macron.

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The previous fiscal years of the five-year period have already made it possible to significantly increase this aid. France’s level of commitment fell to 0.37% of gross national income (GNI) in 2015. An effort has been made to reach 0.44% in 2019 and it is expected to reach 0.51% in 2020 .

Debt cancellations

“The goal of 0.55% in 2022 will be met and could even be exceeded due to possible debt cancellations that could occur for countries in difficulty, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic”, indicates the Elysee.

The Presidency notes that this effort by France comes at the very moment when Great Britain is reducing its aid. “The share devoted by the United Kingdom to official development assistance should fall next year to 0.50, so that France should be ahead of it”, comments a source at the Elysee who notes that this state of affairs “Is to be regretted because it is better to act together”.

The objective that developed countries set fifty years ago is to reach 0.7% of GNI for official development assistance, a figure that only a few countries have reached (Germany, Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom). United until this year). The average for developed countries is actually 0.38%, according to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

Evaluate aid effectiveness

The full name of the text adopted by the Council of Ministers is “ programming bill relating to solidarity development and the fight against global inequalities ” because it also includes a number of other provisions. It provides for the establishment of an independent commission to assess the effectiveness of aid and it emphasizes a few priorities: education, health, environment and gender equality.

“We see inequalities growing everywhere, which leads to an increase in social protest and the risk of polarization of societies. This risk is even greater in countries which do not have social shock absorbers, hence the need to support the maintenance of basic services ”, explains the Élysée.

Macron meets NGOs this Thursday, December 17

The text is rather well received by non-governmental organizations. But they would like, however, that France is already committed to the figure of 0.7%. “This law is a step forward, even if we would like it to go further, comments Robin Guittard, spokesperson for Oxfam. Between 200 and 500 million people around the world could fall into poverty as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. So this text comes at the right time. But it will be necessary to ensure its application ”.

Emmanuel Macron is expected to meet with representatives of NGOs this Thursday, December 17, closing the humanitarian conference held at the Quai d’Orsay. The bill is expected to be on the parliamentary calendar for final adoption in the fall.

This means that the “programming” provided for by law will be limited to the budget for the year 2022 alone. This is unusual for such a law, which generally covers the duration of a five-year term. But the text retains its symbolic importance, by emphasizing that the president’s commitment to increase this budget will indeed be honored.

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