Budget 2009 – Something to smile about.

22 Apr

The doom and gloom budget has been published, but in terms of international development how bad was it?

According to the Department for International Development (DFID) the Government has confirmed that Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) will remain at £9.1billion as previously pledged. This is despite an expenditure cut of £155m.

All in all, for a budget in dire economic times, during preparation for an election in 12 months and when a Chancellor has to admit he will be raising taxes not long after – that is a pretty good result.

But before you get too excited, there are a couple of things to remember. Firstly, with a shrinking economy, 0.7% of GNI (Gross National Income)isn’t as much now as it was a year ago. Secondly, these figures are forecasted rather than actual i.e. it’s all just educated guess work, so we will see how on track the UK actually is to meeting these targets next budget. If the economy contracts even further unexpectedly or if the economy suddenly booms, we will see how these figures stack up.

But most importantly, in terms of percentages, the UK is living up to its promise of meeting the 0.7% GNI target. In 2007, ODA was 0.36% GNI (£4.921bn) which grew to 0.43% (£6.306bn) in 2008. The £9.1bn pledge is significant and hopefully, it is a figure that looks like the Government will meet.

So, from this brief vantage point, the Government has listened to itself by promising to continue to help the poorest nations during this financial crisis. At least there was some good news in this budget. Some governments may be tempted to have tightened the purse strings on issues that don’t effect the immediate electorate. But the Government has decided against this.

Organisations like Oxfam are right to be happy.

Cross posted with Ruder Finn Dot Org

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