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Aid increase wins approval by cabinet

Cabinet has agreed a draft law aimed at increasing development aid to 0.5 per cent of Gross National Product (GNP) by 2015.

The additional funds – SFr404 million ($399 million) over two years – are to be used for climate and water projects, according to a foreign ministry statement on Friday.

Poverty reduction remains the main task of development cooperation worldwide, and a prosperous and stable world is of key importance to Switzerland, the statement added.

Parliament is due to begin debate on the bill in the winter session.

Switzerland currently spends 0.47 per cent of GNP on development aid – slightly below the average of other industrialised countries.

Development aid organisations have criticised the government for delaying the increase because of financial constraints and spending cuts.

However the figure is still below the target of 0.7 per cent set by the United Nations. The world body is due to discuss global efforts to halve poverty at a plenary session later this month.

Urs Geiser, and agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR