The Irish government introduced Dec. 5 a budget that cuts overseas development spending for 2013 by €16 million ($20.9 million) from current levels.
The 2013 budget presented by Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan allocates €498 million for official development assistance. This is 2.5 percent less than the country’s total ODA in 2012, which was worth €511 million.
Despite the decrease, Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello welcomed the budget, saying that the money will still allow Irish Aid to continue saving lives and assisting millions of people in developing countries. He also noted that the decrease was “modest” and necessary as Ireland faces financial difficulties.
Development groups, however, were disappointed over yet another reduction of the aid budget.
“Ireland’s overseas aid budget has been cut five times and by over 32 percent since 2008,” Hans Zomer, director of Dóchas, the Irish Association of Development NGOs, said. “In the interest of the fairness referred to by the Minister in his Budget Speech, it is time to stop the cuts to overseas aid.”
Further, the groups cited a recent opinion poll that found strong public support for the continuation of aid programs despite tough economic times.
Development NGOs did welcome changes to Ireland’s tax relief system for charitable donations — a move Zomer described as an “important step forward and a recognition of the importance the government places on the role of Ireland’s civil society.”
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