G8 'cooked books' over Gleneagles aid pledges
Leading development charities have accused the richest Western countries of covering up broken promises to the world’s poor by ignoring the impact of inflation.
The charities attacked the G8 for “cooking the books” in an annual accountability report released before next week’s Deauville summit in order to hide embarrassment at the failure to meet targets set six years ago to double financial help to developing nations.
The report, prepared with input from officials from the G8—the US, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and Russia—hails the “great successes” of donor countries in providing more than $48-billion of the $50-billion in additional development assistance pledged at the G8’s 2005 Gleneagles summit.
But the G8 report downplays figures for inflation-adjusted spending which show an $18-billion shortfall.
This has brought a furious response from non-governmental organisations who have been calling on the leading continental European members of the G8—Germany, Italy and France—to increase their aid spending to the levels pledged.
Jamie Drummond, executive director of anti-poverty campaigners ONE, said the annual G8 accountability report was supposed to ensure that rich country promises were tracked and measured.
He said: “Instead, the report released by the G8 attempts to whitewash the shortfalls. The G8 claims to be just $1-billion a year short of the annual aid target set at the 2005 Gleneagles summit.
According to the globally accepted Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development methodology, this is not the case.
Collectively only 61% of the increased aid promised in 2005 to sub-Saharan Africa was delivered by 2010. The G8 are still over $18-billion short.
“Our recently published report, which tracks the 2005 promises, shows a more accurate picture. Some countries, including the UK and US, are doing well to meet their promises; however Italy, France and Germany are failing to meet their targets.
“We cannot allow countries who are breaking promises to the world’s poor to hide behind misleading figures. When the G8 leaders gather in France next week they must acknowledge that accountability is more than just a PR exercise.”
The Deauville accountability report congratulates the G8 on the steps taken to meet the Gleneagles pledges. It says: “The targets and commitments set out by the G8, as well as a collective approach, have allowed great successes, notably an increase of $48,9-billion of ODA from all OECD-DAC donors since 2004 in current dollars, and more particularly an increase of $31-billion provided by the G8.
“Despite these increases, there remains a $1,27-billion shortfall [in current dollars] with the commitments made in Gleneagles to increase the global overseas development assistance (ODA) towards developing countries, based on the OECD projection of a $50-billion increase. Despite this shortfall, donors have made considerable progress; as the final gap represents only around 2% in current dollars of the $50-billion.”
The report adds: “In constant dollars, the OECD estimates that there is a shortfall of $19-billion from all donors, and on that basis, donor countries are approximately three-fifths of the way to meeting the original OECD estimate.”
Max Lawson, senior policy adviser at Oxfam, said: “Rather than deliver on its promises, the G8 has cooked the books and massaged its aid figures upwards to cover up governments’ lack of action.
“This is not an accountability report; it is a cover-up that is deeply embarrassing for the G8 and an attempt to con the world’s poorest people.”
Lawson added: “Had the G8 met their aid promise, it would have been enough to put every child into school, pay the salaries of 800 000 midwives in Africa, and provide one million life-saving bed nets. These are the real costs of leaders’ inaction.”
Oxfam said that at the G8 summit in L’Aquila in Italy two years ago its members had agreed to spend $22-billion to boost agricultural productivity. The new report, it said, disclosed that half the money had been disbursed, but provided little information on where the aid had been delivered, how it had been spent and how effectively it had been used.
“By reducing this to a smoke-and-mirrors exercise they have fallen way short of the standard we expect,” Lawson said. - guardian.co.uk