A majority of Swiss support the government's development and cooperation programmes abroad but would like to see more money spent on the needy within Switzerland, the federal authorities said Wednesday.This content was published on June 23, 1999 - 08:19
A majority of Swiss support the government's development and cooperation programmes abroad but would like to see more money spent on the needy within Switzerland, the federal authorities said Wednesday.
The head of the government's Agency for Development and Cooperation Walter Fust, pictured above, said the findings were part of a poll carried out on behalf of his agency as well as six other aid organisations and charities.
He said 56 percent of those polled would like to maintain development aid at its current level, while 17 percent favoured an increased commitment.
At the same time, 67 percent suggested that at least some of the federal development aid funds be diverted to support those in need within Switzerland.
Fust said this figure marked a significant increase compared to only a few years ago.
He said many Swiss did not appear to be aware of the fact that social security and benefit payments were made by the cantonal and local authorities, and not the federal government.
"We will have to explain to the public that development aid is in Switzerland's own interest," Fust commented on the findings of the poll.
He added that many of those polled also significantly overestimated the federal development aid budget, which amounts to about SFr1 billion ($666 million) a year.
Too many people also associated development aid with poverty, totalitarian regimes and human rights violations in third world countries, Fust said.
Instead, he argued, the Swiss should come to realise that development aid could, and should, stand for solidarity, a sense of community and entrepreneurial initiative.
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