More money for Belgian development aid

The government wants to spend 0.6 percent of the national income or 2.2 billion euro on development aid. That’s 600 million euro more than in 2008. Just as in the case of comparable sudden increases, a large debt removal (in this case for Iraq and Congo) is part of the explanation. But there will also be real extra money.
The Directorate-General for Development Aid (DGOS) would get 250 million euro more than in 2008 (even though the 2008 budget was already an increase with 250 million compared to 2007). That makes 500 million more in two years. If prime-minister Leterme and minister of Develepment Charles Michel can live up to their promise, they will add 60% to the regular budget in 2 years time. That has never happened before.
At DGOS we hear that the 1.1 billion that was agreed on for 2008 is effectively at their disposal and it would appear that this will remain so. Unlike with the purple governments of the last years, the so-called anchor principle – in which the DGOS budget is cut at the end of the year to make government budget right – will not be applied now. The government will keep its promise to spend 0.7% of its budget on aid in  2010.
From the non-federal authorities, prime-minister Leterme expects that they realize 5% of the Belgian aid over the next years. At the moment the regions and communities, cities and municipalities already account for 5%. If the global budget continues to rise however, they too will have to make an extra effort. Prime-minister Leterme has had talks about this, but now agreements has been reached yet.
One of the biggest rises in the budget is the governmental cooperation, which goes from 282 to 383 million. Quite a large part of this budget would go to the Belgian Technical Cooperation.
Indirect aid is also increasing. Especially the ngo’s benefit: they get an extra 12 million euro. Belgium also wants to react to the increasing food-prices that hit millions of people, by seriously augmenting the food aid and the Belgische Overlevingsfonds. The Belgian Investment Association for Development countries (BIO) receives 30 million extra. Charles Michel wants BIO to increase in scale over the next couple of years. BIO focuses mainly on micro-credits – which are small loans for the very poor. (jvd)

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