More aid needed to reach UN Millennium Goals

Peruvians learn to take an engine apart, as part of a Swiss-funded development project Keystone

A group of non-governmental organisations has called on the government to substantially increase its funding for aid and poverty projects.

This content was published on May 13, 2005 minutes

The Swiss Coalition of Development Organisations said on Thursday that the government had so far failed to do enough in support of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

It said that the cabinet, when it meets next Wednesday, should undertake moves to bring the amount of aid for developing countries into line with other European nations.

The government has declared that it wants to increase aid to the equivalent of 0.4 per cent of GDP, but the Swiss coalition’s six NGOs said this should be raised to 0.56 by 2010 and 0.7 per cent by 2015.

This would be in line with European Union targets and follow recommendations set by the UN.

The coalition’s director, Peter Niggli, said that concrete action was needed to achieve the Millennium Goals’ aim of cutting by half the number of people worldwide living in extreme poverty or suffering from hunger by 2015. Rich countries had to take some responsibility, he added.

A high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly will be held in September in attempt to accelerate progress towards these goals.

Jet fuel tax

The Swiss coalition said the government should also support initiatives for the introduction of international taxes, such as a levy on jet fuel, to finance more aid.

EU finance ministers earlier this year said a kerosene tax could generate up to €7 billion (SFr10.8 billion) per year in funding.

Coalition spokeswoman Bastienne Joerchel said there was agreement at the international level that "the Millennium Goals cannot be reached by following a policy of 'business as usual’".

For his part, Niggli criticised the Swiss government for trying to avoid taking part in the international debate.

The Millennium Goals were unanimously approved by 189 nations, including Switzerland, in 2000.

Besides reducing poverty and hunger, the aim is to cut infant mortality, combat diseases such as Aids, achieve universal primary education and ensure environmental sustainability.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

In 2004, 22 industrial countries contributed SFr93.6 billion ($77 billion) to development aid.
The amount represents 0.25% of GDP.
Switzerland ranked 15th among these countries, setting aside 0.37% of GDP last year for aid funding.

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