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OECD wants greater contributions in Swiss development aid

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has published a report critical of Switzerland's current involvement in overseas development work.

Swiss aid experts were told to increase their contributions by members of the OECD's development aid committee.

On Tuesday, the Development Aid Committee (DAC) presented their four-year report to representatives from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. It calls on Switzerland to boost the proportion of its Gross National Product (GNP) allocated to development aid up to 0.4 per cent as soon as possible.

Switzerland's aid package amounted to just 0.35 per cent of last year's GNP, despite the Swiss government's promises to raise it to 0.4 per cent.

The OECD reached its conclusions on Switzerland's overseas development work by dispatching French and Dutch experts to Swiss projects in Tanzania and Bolivia.

After the conference in Paris on Tuesday, Paolo Janke of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation said: "Considerable pressure has been put on us after Switzerland failed to reach the goal of 0.4 per cent."

Asked how his agency would increase the figure, he told swissinfo: "The Swiss government will look at measures to try to achieve this goal...also taking into account that there is another goal which is to balance the budget. The bad state of the federal finances has not allowed us to reach our target in the past".

OECD officials, however, also attacked Switzerland for not providing a more concentrated approach to overseas development aid in a in more considered manner.

"One such criticism was that there is no common strategy between the two Swiss agencies for Development Cooperation. Another weakness, which was underlined by the committee, was the lacking financial, geographical and topical concentration on our part. They meant that our aid was too loosely dispersed on too many countries or in a specific country on too many themes".

Despite the critical tone of the report, Switzerland's delegation was open to suggestions as to how to improve its work. Janke said: "This is our chance to do more and in a better way. The discussions in Paris were very interesting and very much appreciated".

On a more positive note, Switzerland did receive praise for some aspects of its work: the OECD was pleased to acknowledge Switzerland's above-average commitment to the world's poorest countries. Thirty-seven per cent of Switzerland's aid spending flows into these countries, while the average of DAC member state stands at 25 per cent.

Switzerland also scored points on they way in which it includes local authorities and civil society in the aid distribution process.

swissinfo with agencies


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